Julie Doiron: I Thought of You review – happy sounds from an unhappy place

·1 min read

You could think of the prolific Canadian songwriter Julie Doiron as a kind of unsung godmother to Courtney Barnett or the recent crop of North American indie singer-songwriters. She has gone by many band names; occasionally she will put out a record under her own – sometimes in French or Spanish. Some of her noisier work is billed as Julie and the Wrong Guys; in 2019 she collaborated with Mount Eerie on a quiet, devastated album about him gaining and losing love after a previous partner’s death.

As comfortable getting messy in her teenage Sub Pop band Eric’s Trip as she is authoring this more hushed material, her latest record finds Doiron at a laid-back mid-point, fronting a band who can skew elegant or scruffy – witness the Neil Young-derived guitar solo on The Letters We Sent.

Telling of new beginnings and lost love, the breeze in her voice and her easy-going melodies act as a smokescreen: these are often direct takes on pain. “How can we keep loving when we know every night is just a fight?” Doiron sings on the country-tinged How Can We?. In Darkness to Light, her smoky register pairs with very well-appointed pedal steel to describe her lucky escape from an unhappy place.

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