Julie Doiron's stunning album DÃ©sormais, originally released via Jagjaguwar in 2001, marked a departure from the Canadian artist's grunge pop releases in the 1990s. Like its title might suggest, the intimate record is sung almost entirely in French. Across DÃ©sormais' ten tracks, Doiron builds a disarming and warm atmosphere - through minimally-composed fingerpicking, Doiron's soft voice steers a wounded sound. Even for the English-speaking listener, the cohesion of the LP's subdued, immersive atmosphere looms. DÃ©sormais clearly communicates a close, unflinching look at self-doubt submerged in melancholy.
Heart and Crime, released less than a year later in 2002, traverses much of the same territory. Written within the same time as DÃ©sormais, Heart and Crime is a companion to its predecessor, similarly vulnerable and scarce compositionally, save for flickers of brass or a piano line flitting in or out. Again, its weight comes from its somber simplicity, in Doiron's wistful voice and lyricism.
DÃ©sormais and Heart and Crime serve as visceral time capsules for Doiron's own personal history. It’s fitting, then that the records are also distinct placeholders within the Jagjaguwar canon. DÃ©sormais and Heart and Crime came at a time just as the label began to widen its scope. Doiron's work was amongst the first in a new era of Jagjaguwar artists that expanded the label’s roster and aesthetic, ushering in new and diverse definitions of Jagjaguwar's early dedication to emotional dissonance.
Available for the first time on vinyl, Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars is Doiron's most critically acclaimed album, going so far as to win the 2000 Juno Award — the Canadian equivalent to the Grammy — for best independently released album of the year. Combining elements of rock and jazz a la Joni Mitchell's early '70s work, Julie and the Wooden Stars somehow translated the coldness of the Canadian winter into one of the warmest and most tender records to be produced in the Eastern province in years.
Everything is coming together in Julie Doiron's world, from embracing her electric past, to embarking on a new and energetic phase of her solo career with some of the most upbeat and inspiring songs of her recording career. I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day — which arrives on the heels of the album Lost Wisdom, Doiron and her bandmate Fred Squire’s recent critically-acclaimed collaboration with Mt. Eerie — presents listeners with an album that reflects both her continued growth as an artist and a renewed optimism as a songwriter as well. As has often been the case, Doiron’s songwriting is rooted in what’s happening around her.
More than any other songwriter, you can tell exactly what's going on in her life. Direct and painfully honest, she lays it all out in her lyrics. "I just sing about what's happening," she admits, resigned to her style. "I don't know how to do anything else. I don't know how to write any other way. I've wanted to... I've tried! Because sometimes I feel like maybe I shouldn't be so direct, but I don't know how."
In addition to this new perspective, Doiron has made an album which showcases a thick distortion and melodic pop not heard since her days with indie heroes Eric's Trip in the '90s. It's part of a desire to get back to her electric days with that band. The past couple of years have seen Eric's Trip regroup for triumphant reunion tours, and a rekindling of her work with Trip mainstay Rick White (who produced her 2007 Polaris Prize-nominated album Woke Myself Up, and returned for this album). I Can Wonder was recorded at White's isolated home studio, just northwest of Toronto. Doiron handled the electric and acoustic guitar parts, Rick played all the bass and keyboards, and Fred Squire performed all the drums and some lead guitar. Squire, who comes from Sackville, New Brunswick, is Julie's bandmate in another of her projects, Calm Down It's Monday.
Originally released in 1997 by Sub Pop, Loneliest In The Morning was Doiron’s second solo release and her first release as Julie Doiron (having dropped the moniker Broken Girl). This re-issue comes complete with three bonus tracks: “Second Time” from split 7” with Snailhouse and the tracks “Who Will Be The One” and “Too Much” from the 7” release Doiron recorded with the Wooden Stars. Loneliest In The Morning — an album Pitchfork described as “catchy enough to knock Liz Phair upside the head” — is a critical piece to the Doiron catalog and given the wonderful relationship Doiron and Jagjaguwar have forged over the last decade, this re-issue is particularly significant.
Julie Doiron began her career in music in 1990 at the age of 18 in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada playing bass in Eric's Trip, a folky yet psychedelic band that were to become the undisputed underground darlings of Canadian music. Eric's Trip were the first of many maritime Canadians signed to Sub Pop and found international recognition, releasing several albums and touring widely. Following 1996's Purple Blue, Eric's Trip announced their breakup and Julie Doiron embarked on her solo career, first releasing songs as Broken Girl and soon under her own name starting with Loneliest In The Morning, which was recorded in Memphis, TN with producer Dave Shouse of the Grifters. She has released seven full-lengths and three EPs, including the Juno Award-winning Julie Doiron & the Wooden Stars album.
We all are driven to doing certain things and making certain decisions in our lives for any number of reasons, be it ambition, fear, greed or love. The last purpose is perhaps the most identifiable to most of us, and so it is no great mystery that that which drives us can both reward us immensely and plummet us into the greatest depths of inconsolable sadness and regret. On Julie Doiron’s first album of new material in over two years, she addresses in her signature intimate songwriting style both the heights and the fallout in a way that forces the listener to reexamine their own loves.
One of the most important and greatest loves in Julie’s life is that towards her family. The first half of Woke Myself Up details the joy and awe that her family has given her. Immediately, one knows that her unabashed and unaffected lyrics are coming from a woman truly moved. The second half sees Julie making mistakes, blowing second chances, and coming to terms with the sad truth that one cannot live up to expectations set by herself or those she loves. The harrowing untitled final track (recorded and added to the album at the eleventh hour by Doiron) may very well be the most affecting of Doiron’s performances ever committed to tape.
Also important to the recording of this album was a reunion of sorts with her musical family. Founding Eric’s Trip bandmate Rick White produced and played on the entire album, and a handful of the songs contain the entire original Eric’s Trip band nucleus that took the Canadian indie underground by storm 15 years ago. Working with an old friend and collaborator like White was key to this album’s intensely vulnerable and emotionally raw tone. What’s captured is timeless and universal, in the same way as Cat Power’s Moon Pix, Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Love And Hate, and Joni Mitchell’s Blue.
Goodnight Nobody finds an unguarded Julie Doiron, efficiently but undeliberately creating her first masterpiece in only a few days time at three different locations. Ploughing through the studio in just a few days with a gangly crew of musicians, the result is a collection of songs that all are “allowed” to speak for themselves. Their instinctive “rawness” remains intact, not cooked out by incessant knob twiddling or second-guessing. With the help of friends like Herman Dune (who also perform as her European touring band) and ex-Eric’s Trip collaborator Rick White, she has taken the textures of her first widely released full-length Loneliest in the Morning and mixed them with the crystalline vocal performance of her most recent full-length Heart and Crime. Goodnight Nobody is the end product, the best of both worlds, downcast and moody pop tunes right from the heart, aimed straight at the heart. Even though she is described frequently in the press as an “indie-diva” or “chanteuse” of the highest power, Julie Doiron fits these well-intentioned approbations only in that she is a woman singer comfortable in her own skin. Under-reported are her signature guitar-stylings and her singular mastery of conveying mood and sentiment in song. For fans of Cat Power, Leonard Cohen and Hayden.
Jagjaguwar is proud to release the long lost Julie Doiron album Broken Girl, expanded to include her first two 7"es. It was originally released in 1996 (in a scant edition of 1000) by Doiron after her band--the psychedelic folk group Eric's Trip — had crumbled around her, under the temporary moniker "Broken Girl". The name did nothing to hide her feelings regarding the breakup of her band and the relationships that she shared with its members; neither did the songs on the record. The twelve songs from the original album come across like an epitaph for a departed lover. Broken Girl was a watershed for Doiron, showing her to be the sort of songwriter and performer that Eric's Trip only hinted at. Achingly beautiful and showcasing her vocal style and personality as a songwriter, the reviews immediately put her in the same class as Leonard Cohen in terms of importance as a Canadian solo artist. The album was self-recorded in the same home-y manner as the classic Eric's Trip albums which helped--along with albums by peers Sebadoh, East River Pipe and Smog — define the bedroom aesthetic of the early '90s. While some rock scribes would call it lo-fi, the fidelity of the recordings that Doiron and her Eric's Trip mates employed in the first half of the '90s was clearly the most appropriate medium. The close-mic'ing of everything from the vocals to the swirling guitars and peaking drums created a sense of real intimacy (while avoiding a lot of the awkward pitfalls that so many confessional songwriters run into) and suburban claustrophobia. Rolling Stone wrote, "Fellow Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen once titled an album Songs From A Room. Montreal-based Julie Doiron apparently took up residence there and removed whatever furniture was left behind."
Will You Still Love Me? and Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars are the two much-acclaimed albums that Julie Doiron released on Tree Records in 1999 (the latter was also released on her own Sappy Records imprint in Canada, where it won the 2000 Juno Award-the Canadian equivalent to the Grammy-for best independently released record of the year). Having been out of print for the greater part of two years, Jagjaguwar is proud to reintroduce them to the record buying public in newly packaged form, with upgraded booklets that include lyrics for the first time. Also, the Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars CD will include a compressed version of her video for the song "Dance Music", accessible to fans with personal computers. After a solo album on Sub Pop (her home for the previous decade with Eric's Trip), Doiron found a good home in Tree, for whom she first released Will You Still Love Me? As the inaugural EP, it was also a creative spring-board for Doiron, a mini-album that has endured as a fan favorite. Adored for its sparse, no-nonsense demeanor, the EP offers a first glimpse at what has become Doiron's signature style, the moody union of vocals and guitar whose unified tone both expresses and evokes a timeless longing for a comforting, primal maternalism.
One writer puts it best: "Fellow Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen once titled an album Songs From A Room. Montreal-based Julie Doiron apparently took up residence there and removed whatever furniture was left behind." Heart And Crime is the follow-up to the much acclaimed Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars (winner of the coveted Canadian entertainment award, the Juno, for 2000) and comes hot on the heels of the French-sung Jagjaguwar release Desormais. Like her previous records, Heart And Crime abhors unneccessary accoutrements. It relies on naked and minimal arrangements to propel familiar themes of self-doubt, hope, longing and sadness. The tone of intimacy throughout the record is like that which comes after three bottles of wine; a solitary singer with guitar, singing to herself, accompanied only by the sounds coming through the wall. Described frequently in the press as an "indie-diva" or "chanteuse" of the highest power, Doiron fits these well-intentioned approbations only in that she is a woman singer comfortable in her own skin. Under-reported are her signature guitar-stylings and her singular mastery of earnestly conveying mood and sentiment in the body of song. The latter is where she outpaces contemporaries like Edith Frost, Mia Doi Todd, Catpower, Elliot Smith or Beth Orton. Doiron seems destined for the pantheon of important singer-songwriters of this generation, and her affective powers are significant. According to another writer, Doiron's "moody minor key whispers make Joni Mitchell seem almost giddy by comparison."
Julie Doiron is the most entrancing chanteuse at this North American block party. Fans of her work as a founding member of early '90s hyper-moody Eric's Trip will be thrilled with this latest chapter in her unfurling body of work. Desormais is the French-language record Doiron has always wanted to create. Although the full-length is mostly sung in French (all but one song), it still contains all of the hallmark characteristics of Doiron's songwriting; it is a record that contains music of spartan beauty while the songs all tend towards moodiness but hedge themselves by steadfastly remaining understated. Whether or not you understand the French tongue, Doiron's stylized guitar and vocal melodicism are so lyrical that they transcend the need for translation. It is no surprise that this Acadian songwriter from Montreal, Quebec, is often compared to songwriters of a previous generation. Perhaps the most appropriate comment made by any writer is how Doiron's "moody minor key whispers make Joni Mitchell seem almost giddy by comparison."