By Riley Hamilton
Cute Couples is a weekly column bringing you album pairings – one old, one new – that go together like wine and cheese.
The Greater Wings – Julie Byrne
I discovered Julie Byrne during my college years in Denton, TX, when 2017’s Not Even Happiness kept me regular company and brought me endless comfort. Her new album, The Greater Wings, arrives following the unexpected death of Byrne’s longtime collaborator Eric Littmann. The pair met in Austin at SXSW in 2014 — for a glowing, touching tribute to both Littmann and Byrne, and the relationship they shared, check out this piece in The Guardian. The Greater Wings features the return of Byrne’s signature buttery vocals, gentle guitar picking, and atmospheric synths, all of which are now amplified with additional electronic orchestration (most evident on lead single “Summer Glass”). The often heart-wrenching poetics and natural musicality of The Greater Wings lift Julie Byrne to the pantheon of modern folk musicians. Her lyrics simultaneously cut deep and provide bandages, as she sings candidly about life and death. Really, not a day has gone by since the album’s July 7th release that I have not thought of the conclusion of standout track “Portrait Of A Clear Day” — a brief silence, a deep sigh, “and I get so nostalgic for you sometimes.”
Green – Hiroshi Yoshimura
Originally released in 1986 and re-issued in 2020, Hiroshi Yoshimura’s Green is a landmark achievement in electronic music. Equally captivating and soothing, the album creates a sort of electronic ecosystem in various forms. “FEEL” sounds like it could be an early version of a score for a modern action movie; “GREEN” sounds like it’s meant to be performed as a duet between a shamisen and a keyboard; “TEEVEE” sounds like a foundation for the what 90’s pop music would eventually be. Green is expansive, sweeping, and beautiful. It’s an album best enjoyed at the bookends of a day — with your morning cup of coffee or as you settle in for bed.