Julie Doiron writes songs so intimate and guileless that you occasionally feel as though you’ve accidentally cut into someone’s private phone conversation. “So, I’m writing this song to prove to myself that maybe I can write songs,” she sings absentmindedly on opening track “Cars & Trucks,” like a woman haphazardly making her way through a set of daily affirmations. You catch her in moments of self-doubt (“I Thought I Could Do It”), utter despair (“Homeless”), and, at times, rapture (“The Only”).
These plain, personal revelations are framed by fittingly unadorned arrangements—spare fingerpicking, airy electric-guitar harmonics, the occasional crunch of distortion or halo of pedal steel—and producer Rick White underscores the cozy quality by foregrounding Doiron’s warm, matte vocals. It’s beautifully unfussy and unfussed-over, but the immediacy of the writing and the sparseness of the presentation makes many of these tunes feel more like studies than fully developed songs. And because the sentiments here are so raw, it’s hard not to be overcome by great rushes of empathy—it’s a remarkable effect, but it means that the curiously organized tracklist, which ricochets between lovey ballads, mournful breakup songs, over-the-moon crush anthems, and self-flagellating anxiety, sends you on a jarring emotional rollercoaster.
As inadvertent eavesdropping goes, this is a stunner; as a unified album, it’s a bit of a game of broken telephone.
Playlist picks “By the Lake,” “Another Second Chance,” “Where Are You,” “Homeless”