Thursday, February 19, 2009

Reviews:: Julie Doiron I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day

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Over the last few years, it’s become increasingly easy to picture Julie Doiron writing songs from the comfort of her Sackville kitchen. Her sonic preferences have evolved from sludge and lo-fi melodies to tender tracks that expose hints of sadness delivered by a subdued voice and her emotions are spiked with the drama of a slowed down life filled with memories and dreams instead of the insecurities of youth.

And while there’s no doubt that Doiron is incredibly successful writing in this style (Woke Myself Up earned a Polaris short-list nomination), for me it’s hard not to pine for the noise and energy that she and the other Tripper’s created in the 90’s. It’s obvious, even after working with her former band mates on Woke Myself Up, that Doiron is never going to fully return to that style, but I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day blends her past and present nicely.

The record opens with the simple strummed ditty, The Life Of Dreams. As the bird sing in the distance, you can’t help but think of a beautiful sun filled morning; you get that rush of a new day and a fresh start. Doiron sings about the best things in life – good friends, hope, love – with an unexpected, but very refreshing optimism. Over the course of the next 11 songs, it becomes obvious that Doiron is in a great place in her life looking forward and seeing the beauty in everyday life (another summery number - Nice To Come Home - about the unbridled joy of coming home to a warm home).

But she also reflects fondly on her past (both with memories and a return to a sound many of us had forgot about – she even recorded a terrific French track Je Le Savais that will warm the heart of her long time fans). She and Fred Squire attack Spill Yer Lungs, a gritty stripped down track written by Squire that shows Doiron plugging in and letting distorted notes thicken up the sound. There's no mistaking that this release is a solo record, but Julie is quite happy to let Rick White’s keys and bass or Squire’s drums mesh with her guitar and voice (like she does on the punchy Borrowed Minivans or the classic melody of Lovers of the World) and deliver a bigger sound.

For those concerned, it’s still the same Julie. She still harbors the sneaking suspicion that a love can’t actually be pure or that a heart can’t exist unbroken. She still sings about the little things she sees unfold in front of her instead of grandiose narratives, but Doiron is definitely exploring some new terrain and making bolder musical choices. The way she describes the simple pleasure of flying around Sackville on a bike with wet brakes is classic, but the When Brakes Get Wet is completed by the pulsing drum machine static that creates a childlike excitement that really mirrors that energy and happiness we feel when we are lucky enough to escape real life.

For me though, what makes I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day so special is the honesty and freedom that runs through it. Trying to balance a storied past with where she's at now in her life would intimidate most artists and more importantly, risk alienating some of her newer fans. Following Nice To Come Home with the heavily distorted, double tracked chaos of Consolation Prize showcases the two extremes of her songs, but it also successfully replaces the nostalgia we might feel for any record Doiron has released in the past with an overwhelming desire to get to know who Julie has become.

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Posted at 7:06 AM by ack :: 1 comments

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At 1:12 AM, Anonymous Colin Medley did sayeth:

Julie is my favourite, can't wait to pick this one up, everyone keeps saying how good it is! I love how she works with different people on each album.


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