A tenth studio album conceals emotional riches beneath a pleasant veneer.
Though she originally hails from New Brunswick, Julie Doiron took up residence in Toronto in the fall of 2011, both in the personal and the professional sense. Throughout early 2012, she spent several weeks as the performer-in-residence at the popular Bloor Street and Ossington Avenue cafe Saving Gigi, performing a new set there each week. She also did a stint as a yoga instructor at a local studio. In an interview with NOW Magazine, she compared living in her new Toronto neighbourhood to living in Sackville, New Brunswick. She considered herself to be part of a small, local, tightly knit arts community—only with all of the benefits of also being in a much larger city.
It was during this time that she was working on the material that would become her tenth studio album, So Many Days, released Tuesday on Aporia records. The album is as welcome as the first warm day in early spring after a hard winter. Doiron’s vocal tone is her signature. It’s as comforting as a warm mug of tea in the hands, and just a little bit steamy. The instrumentation is subtle but vibrant, and the guitars take on rich, caramel-like tones and a verdant, vibrant brightness. Everything seems to come with ease.
But the auditory sweetness of So Many Days is deceptive; it conceals the fact that, conceptually, this is a surprisingly dark and complex record—one that is unafraid to expose fear and insecurities. “Can’t Take It No More” deals with an existential sadness that borders on depression. It explores the type of negativity and helplessness one feels despite being able to recognize that life is otherwise good. “Another Second Chance” is a fumbling, emotionally raw piece that examines the awkwardness of failure and asking for forgiveness. “Homeless,” which is nearly a capella, begins with the haunting line, “I used to be good.” (Click the sample above to listen to “By the Lake,” another track from the album.)
It’s easy to put Julie Doiron’s So Many Days on in the background and think that the music is merely pretty, simply soothing. But the more carefully the listener engages, the more the record reveals its powerful emotional core.