October 26, 2023

Julie Byrne

artwork by Daniel Kent

Mistletone is thrilled to present Julie Byrne, returning to Australia in the wake of her sublime new album, The Greater Wings.


JANUARY 17 + 19: SYDNEY FESTIVAL @ ACO NEILSON. Tickets on sale here.
JANUARY 25: CASTLEMAINE @ THEATRE ROYAL. Tickets on sale here.

A triumph of grace and hope against the odds” – THE GUARDIAN ★★★★★

Julie Byrne is making the most powerful, life-affirming music of her career. Her magnificent new album The Greater Wings is a universally resonant testament to the power of love and friendship to transcend grief and loss.

The follow-up to her stunning 2017 breakthrough album, Not Even Happiness, The Greater Wings became one of this year’s most rapturously reviewed albums. This deeply moving album is a celebration of friendship; Eric Littmann, Julie Byrne’s longtime creative partner and producer of her previous album Not Even Happiness, died suddenly at age 31, before the album was finished. Recording was finished in the Catskills of New York with producer Alex Somers (Sigur Rós, Julianna Barwick).

Julie Byrne has emerged from a deeply trying and generative period with the most lustrous music of her career. While they hold the plasticity of grief and trauma, the songs are universally resonant, unbridled in their devotion and joy, held up by the love and alliance of a chosen family.

With her hushed vocals, sparse instrumentation and gently plucked guitar, Julie Byrne has a way of drawing you in close. Onstage with her musical companions, Byrne is a spellbinding presence, able to transform any room into her front porch. As a performer, Julie carries an aura of warmth and vulnerability, an innate musicality connected to the natural world; there is real gravity in her ability to make that a shared feeling.

For nearly a decade, Julie Byrne has moved through the world as a characteristically private artist largely outside the public eye. Raised in New York State, now living in New York City, she has counted many places as home.

In the folk lineage of the wanderer, Byrne’s poetic, evocative songcraft pulls imagery from the road and takes its shape from the evolving impressions of friendship, love, and loss. She taught herself guitar after picking it up when her father became ill and could no longer play the instrument himself. She has stocked shelves in supermarkets, and moonlit as a seasonal urban park ranger in Manhattan. 

Most recently, Julie has made a new EP with Taryn Blake Miller and Emily Fontana under the name Laugh Cry Laugh, recorded during the winter of last year, including an original called “Velocity! What About The Inertia!?” and a cover of Jackson Browne’s “These Days.”

Julie Byrne shared her first full-length album in 2014 on the Chicago-based label Orindal. Rooms With Walls and Windows, a collection of intimate front porch psych-folk songs initially released over two separate cassettes, became a true modern-day word-of-mouth DIY success story. It was voted number 7 in MOJO Magazine’s best albums of the year, with the Huffington Post calling it “2014’s Great American Album.” She toured the album internationally, playing a handful of festivals and a host of underground house shows across America, and as her profile rose, she also found her artistic community.

Writing for her next album spread across various seasons and locations, a travelogue culminating with sessions in her childhood home with producer and creative partner Eric Littmann and later in a cabin in New Hampshire where Jake Falby added string parts. Released in 2017 on Basin Rock and Ba Da Bing Records, Not Even Happiness saw widespread acclaim, named Best New Music by Pitchfork, with universal acclaim across the board, including The New York Times, NME, and The Guardian. By year’s end, the record was a staple on best-of lists; Byrne had played an NPR Tiny Desk and began a run of world tours that continued for several years.

Julie will confess the success of Not Even Happiness was unexpected, but its hushed closing track, “I Live Now As A Singer,” did forecast an intention. She knew the open space — occupied by Littmann’s signature palette of synth tones, Falby’s strings, and Byrne’s robust, drifting voice — presented something new and thrilling, something they’d develop as a live band and what would later be understood as the catalyst for material to come.

The Greater Wings — Julie’s debut for Ghostly International and her first album in over six years — builds on this revelatory space at every turn. Navigating themes of grief, intimacy, and transformation, The Greater Wings is a testament to patience and determination, the willingness to transform through the desolation of loss, the vitality of renewal, and the courage to rise, forever changed.

Leaning further into atmospheres both expansive and intimate, the lush, evocative songcraft flows between her signature fingerpicked guitar, synthesiser, and a newly adopted piano, made wider by flourishes of harp and strings. It is the transcendent sound of resource, of friendship that was never without romance, of loyalty that burns from within like a heart on fire, and the life force summoned in unrepeatable moments — raw, gorgeous, and wild.

“My hope for The Greater Wings is that it lives as a love letter to my chosen family and as an expression of the depth of my commitment to our shared future. Being reshaped by grief also has me more aware of what death does not take from me. I commit that to heart, to words, to sound. Music is not bound to any kind of linear time, so in the capacity to record and speak to the future: this is what it felt like to me, when we were simultaneous, alive, occurring all at once. What it has felt like to go up against my edge and push, the love that has made it worth all this fight. These memories are my values, they belong with me.” – Julie Byrne

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