Love Letter To A Record: Lisa Mitchell On Julie Byrne’s ‘Not Even Happiness’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Lisa Mitchell – Julie Byrne, Not Even Happiness(2017)

Julie Byrne released her album when I moved back to Melbourne/Naarm ‘for good.’ I was spending time alone, in the Inner North, walking the bluestone laneways and feeling all the incarnations of my different selves, from every time I’d lived here. Julie is from the other side of the world. Her voice is full of longing. Of courage. Of melancholy. And for me, I heard a sense of acceptance. Of self, of home, of what truly matters to me. I listened to this album so many times in those first few months, of ‘being back.’

Everyone has those places, that call them back. I knew there were important stories here for me. I’d gone as far as I could into the paperwork that might let me put a deposit on an apartment in Paris, but something had felt… Serious. It was inevitable, of course, that I would fall in love with someone eventually… And what if we wanted to have children together? Something alarmed me about the ‘putting down of roots’, so far from my family…

I had a deep sense that, if I ever might want to ‘get back home,’ will I always be able to? Will there always be flights? Now, in 2021, of course, this is the reality: there are not always flights home because of the pandemic, which has been devastating for so many people who want to come home to their families. I realised that I was choosing between a future with my family, or without them. And after communing with my deepest values, it felt very simple: no. My father had made that sacrifice when he immigrated to so-called-Australia as a young man. That was enough heartache for all of us.

Julie’s album was a benevolent clear night sky. It held me as I slept, ate and sang the limbo between my old life and my new one. As I began to return.

Australian singer-songwriter Lisa Mitchell has returned with her latest single ‘Zombie’. ​​Superbly produced by Tom Iansek (Big Scary / #1 Dads), ‘Zombie’ creates a dreamy soundscape that underpins Lisa’s perfect, wistful vocals that help us view life in a different, brighter light. Mitchell will be celebrating the release of ‘Zombie’ with two intimate shows – Sydney on Thursday, December 2nd, at The Factory Theatre and Thursday, December 9th at Corner Hotel in Melbourne.

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