Julie Doiron - "So Fast" (Loneliest In The Morning)
Loneliest in the Morning is the second of Jagjaguwar’s reissues of early material by Julie Doiron. The album was originally released on Sub Pop in 1997, and is accompanied here by three bonus tracks previously only available on 7” singles (two with the Wooden Stars, and the third with Rick White of Eric’s Trip, Doiron’s previous band). Although only Doiron’s second solo release (the first was released under the pseudonym Broken Girl), Lonliest bares evidence of the all the key elements that mark her subsequent discography and sees her musical identity emerge fully formed.
Doiron’s albums fall into two broad categories: on one hand there are the more collaborative, band-drive efforts (2000’s Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars, 2004’s Goodnight Nobody), and on the other, the more stripped-down solo efforts (2001’s Desormais and Heart and Crime). Loneliest falls into the second category, and although recorded four years earlier, bears a strong family resemblance to Heart and Crime. Both albums consist primarily of Doiron accompanying herself on guitar while tactfully deploying additional instruments at strategic moments (electric piano on “Dance Me,” pedal steel on “Sorry, Part I.”) Here, however, she has not quite developed the skeletal, plucked guitar style she would later adopt; while her playing still shows some signs of the idiosyncracies to come, she relies more heavily on strummed power chords, which give some of the tracks a somewhat clumsy quality (“So Fast,” “Condescending You”) absent from her future work. While free of any real missteps, the album falls short the austere elegance that Doiron would attain with her 2001 albums.
For the most part, however, Loneliest is full of Doiron at her best. Her singing and guitar playing feel like an organic whole, the words more a natural extension of the music than a carefully-wrought text. This effortlessness mitigates the somewhat banal and artless lyrics, which feel as though they could be interchangeable from song-to-song. Doiron is a confessional lyricist, which is certainly nothing remarkable. What is remarkable, however, is how the sustained mood her music creates results in a confession that feels less like a diary entry and more like a religious ceremony (witness the droning sitar and chant-like backing vocals on “Love to Annoy”).
As always with Doiron, the pleasures of Loneliest in the Morning are subtle and understated, and demand a kind of meditative attention to fully appreciate. While the album might feel a bit slight or unpolished on first listen, its effortless intimacy masks a powerful undercurrent of that pained, yet peaceful melancholy that Doiron is so skilled at expressing.