I'm pretty hot or cold when it comes to music by girls with guitars. I love me some Cat Power and Carole King, but too often, folksy female singers rely too much on pretty poetry and gently strummed chords and not enough on innovative songwriting.
But Julie Doiron's just-released album, Woke Myself Up, manages to avoid those pitfalls. In fact, it is a testament to Doiron's musical ability that I was transfixed by each song's texture — including the unpredictable vocal melodies and the piles of guitars that come crashing down on top of them — way before I started listening to the lyrics. And once I started paying attention, I was immediately struck by how perfectly the music echoes each song's sentiment, so
It helps that Doiron's voice, though feminine, is more icy than sweet, infusing depth and character into every line. On "I Left Town," Doiron perfectly captures the repetition of road trips with a drifting, dreary waltz, singing: "And although I was tired / I stayed pretty calm / because I knew that soon I would / be sleeping in your arms."
That gentleness disappears on the angrier "Don't Wannabe / Liked By You," where growling Pixies-style basslines charge alongside lyrics like "and we're all screwed anyway 'cause Greenland is melting." But suddenly the song slows to a contemplative pause as Doiron reconsiders: "So I suppose I'll just let the love in."
Woke Myself Up has its truly innovative moments, but when it falters, it's because many songs tend toward flat and repetitive. Too often, Doiron will find one nice lyric and go with it again and again. The music is captivating enough to make the repetition tolerable, but with a little more effort, this album could have been truly eye-opening.