An Emerson PD6548SL Portable Radio CD Player with Cassette Recorder. You probably have or will have owned approximately six equivalent machines by the time you are 25. It’s a middle-of-the-road pre-millenial design and supremely typical. Every possible distinguishing feature is so smoothed down that all that remains is this round, yet somehow still bulky; audio blasting; silver but not shiny; owl-balloon hybrid. All that being said, this unit actually gets rather nice sound and can get very loud without much distortion, which is perfect because that means you can stand far away from the machine and not have to look at it while you enjoy your music.
On to nice things! Julie Byrne is a Chicago based artist, who makes gentle acoustic pop. People have nice things to say about her live performances. You Would Love It Here is her first release on Solid Melts.
Many words come to mind while listening to You Would Love It Here, but earnest and restrained seem to stick the most. The strong vocals, which you might rightfully assume would be pushed up front and center, instead opt to hang back to form a playful and close knit relationship both with the gently plucked guitar tones. as well as, it seems, the sound of the room(s?) the tracks were recorded in. This tight control of vocal inflection, combined with a strong narrative and a frequent direct-address style of songwriting, is extremely evocative and affective. The subjects of the songs are as much relational as they are pastoral, though in that charmingly urban way in which everything natural gains a unique, almost mystical significance.
How it sounds:
After repeated listenings it’s clear that this music is meant to be played in a room that Byrne’s voice invades and then proceed to own. The cassette hiss adds another facet to that dynamic and also plays well with the occasional fret noise from the guitar. This isn’t walking around music and is probably best suited to and environment without a lot of ambient noise.
The full package:
The front cover has the words “You would love it here. it’s the perfect place for you.” printed in slightly reflective grey ink beneath an image of a small man riding a small donkey. The agrarian imagery continues on the inside cover with a cow head flanked on either side by sun-like discs and other embellishments. Opening the flap reveals a woven or embroidered image of a cat hunting a ball. The close zoom lends an interesting pixilated effect. The same pattern is also printed on the tape itself.
You don’t so much drift away while listening to “Young Wife” as it sneaks up and wraps itself around you. This track doubles as a meditation on memory and physicality, among other things:
“Holiday” is a wistful, classic relationship narrative set partly in Manhattan:
You Would Love It Here is available from Solid Melts.