Julie Doiron has a strangely comforting voice. She rarely reaches for high notes, doesn’t sing in a sultry rasp and absolutely never shouts. She has the voice of an ordinary person, only the slightest bit sweeter. It’s not showy or proud. It’s not ecstatic or angry. Plainly put, Doiron has a very pleasant sounding voice, which peppers her music with slight hues of sadness and regret, though none intense enough to demand Zoloft. Doiron sings with melancholy, but she always sounds warm and friendly. And because of that, Goodnight Nobody, the singer-songwriter’s latest album, is a splendid, inviting listen.
Goodnight Nobody is a very simple album. Doiron’s style of song favors grace over agitation, always sacrificing experimentation for minimalism and accessibility. Not a single song here comes close to sounding like a “rock” song in the traditional sense, as Doiron just doesn’t feel like rocking out. And that’s perfectly fine. After having to put up with so many Detroit and New York garage rock bands, it’s refreshing to hear someone who just wants to play it cool with some easy melodies and simple structures.
The first four songs on the album feature a simple guitar and drums arrangement, though they dubiously feature three guitar players. You wouldn’t know it to listen to them, as they remain subtle and quiet, however. “Snow Falls in November” and “Sorry part III” are slow, folky pop songs in the vein of Cat Power, while the following pair, “Last Night” and “No Money Makers” feature more jazzy textures and, in the case of the latter, a guitar solo. “Tonight is No Night” and “Dirty Feet” are more stripped down and acoustic, though “Dance All Night” is surprisingly upbeat, despite its lack of drumming. It comes as a bit of a surprise after the sleepy beginning, and a welcome one at that.
“When I Awake” seems to follow in a sequence, opening with the line, “When I awoke, you were long gone,” perhaps in response to the previous song’s lyric: “Dancing `til we’re on the floor/ breathing and breathless/ nothing will wake us/ except the sun in the morning.” “Awake” returns to the simple, folky sound heard on the first half of the album, though the following song, “The Songwriter,” is slightly more bluesy and bouncy. And, now that I think about it, “The Songwriter” could actually be called a rock song, though certainly not in the Queens of the Stone Age sense of the word. But in the context of Goodnight Nobody‘s other songs, it’s louder and more epic. But soon that fades, and Doiron returns to a quieter sound, with the self-explanatory “Banjo” and the barely-there instrumental “Goodnight.”
From start to finish, Goodnight Nobody is a stark, graceful album by an artist blessed with a soothing, warm voice. They say misery loves company. And if that’s true, you’re probably going to want the company of Julie Doiron. She may be as bummed as you are, but her beautiful tunes will help to ease the pain.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.