Meditation begins with the awareness of physiological functions: breath, blood, tension, voice. Once someone can come to terms with those functions, they’re able to move deeper, to examine the parts of their lives that live untouched, and finally to find an eternal and transcendental spirit experience. Or at least that’s what people say. Julie Byrne’s sophomore LP follows that journey from the j to the y, carrying its listeners through the processes of sensation as Byrne finds her voice. In doing such, the record gives Byrne’s audience an unforgettably powerful and affirming experience.
If I were to choose a singular theme that ties together the emotional tidal wave that is Not Even Happiness, it would be balance. Balance rather than flourish, balance rather [even] than happiness. Every element for each track is equally important, finding the perfect space of not-too-little and not-too-much. As records go, this is one that lays on a balance beam between its two best songs showcasing two of its best environmental qualities. The first: an empty, echoing meditation; the last: an epic, atmosphere-shaking new age ballad. But in between, Byrne never shies from emotional confrontation. Instead she faces it with eyes looking inward towards a strength that is only found in the most fragile of artistic expressions.