She falls asleep while I talk about my issues and I keep going because I can’t afford therapy. I wish I had more happiness to share, I say, but I can’t remember anything. She growls softly from beyond and I stroke her hair. Everything nice includes you now and the other things are someone else’s life, like episodes from an out of syndication show. I can’t hold on to the past anymore. I know it’s time to stop when she shifts and nuzzles into me, so I put out the light and try to meet her there in dreams.
Just in case, she keeps a catalogue of smiles at the corners of her mouth. I break the seal with my lunacy and unleash them regularly. She says, ‘I love you,’ through her laughter and it takes the corrugated cadence of a car on cattle bars. So I fling myself again and again at the furthest reaches of mania, wondering how much joy I can inject in her life. The answer is infinite, the industry of amusement set to pace with the manufacture of happiness. We have become a self-feeding machine, the product of the product of pleasure.
Split again by distance but tethered differently now. We walk a spiral together, passing similar landmarks at different latitudes. Each new angle viewed comes with a small exclamation avowing everything wondrous. I wish I could reel in the rope that binds us, though tracing its knots is more comfort than I could hope and its weft is weighted perfectly. I think of that inexpressible smile, a thousand types of countenance in kaleidoscopic incarnation, who’s light does it shine on tonight. I think of all I love and fasten it around myself, mooring my spirit to vast and unpredictable happiness.
Article originally appeared on The Music Apr 7th 2017
It’s been said before, but Julie Byrne’s got that Joni Mitchell thing going on, meandering through folky feelings and slenderly plucked strings, describing the scenery with expansive yet laconic candour. Not Even Happiness is Byrne’s second trip into this territory, while it finds her better prepared, or at least more polished in production, it’s also our second trip here and it feels a little like getting a postcard from the vacation you took last year. Byrne is clearly a natural songwriter, so it’s a real pity that among a handful of beautiful but interchangeable tales, the interlude is the standout.