Bowery Julie Byrne with Johanna Warren
Sometimes it can take years to find your calling. Not for Julie Byrne, whose power of lyrical expression seems inborn. Often what comes naturally cannot be driven by speed and time. Julie’s second album, Not Even Happiness, has evolved at its own pace. It spans recollections of bustling roadside diners, the stars over the high desert, the aching weariness of change, the wildflowers of the California coast, and the irresolvable mysteries of love. Her new album vividly archives what would have otherwise been lost to the road, and in doing so, Byrne exhibits her extraordinarily innate musicality. Some of the songs on Not Even Happiness took years of fine tuning to reach their fruition. If you asked her why the follow up to 2014’s Rooms with Walls and Windows has taken so long, you’d be greeted with a bewildered expression melted into a smile, as though the strangest question had just been asked.
Johanna Warren crafts powerful songs in unusual time signatures and melancholic open tunings on her acoustic guitar, weaving adept finger-picking with lilting, acrobatic vocal lines and potent poetry drawing from a deep well of mysticism and introspective journeying.
In 2015, Rolling Stone magazine named Johanna "One of Four Singer-Songwriters You Need to Know." In 2016 she founded Spirit House Records, a radically artist-friendly label dedicated to the collective empowerment of free-spirited women, queer, trans and nonbinary artists. She released her third solo LP Gemini I on Spirit House last September; its twin, Gemini II, is due out this summer.
An intuitively self-taught guitarist and classically trained flute player, Warren's writing plumbs the depths of the human experience, alchemizing life's darkest moments into refined offerings of beauty. Although she has lent her voice to artists such as Iron & Wine, Natalie Merchant, and Jesca Hoop, she is a songwriter first and foremost, paying homage through the cultivation of her craft to her personal saviors Joni Mitchell, Elliott Smith, and Nick Drake.