Julie Doiron

I Can Wonder What You Did with Your Day

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Julie Doiron's 2009 album I Can Wonder What You Did with Your Day follows the same basic template as her previous album Woke Myself Up. Divided between quiet, austere ballads and gently rocking songs, the record is easily the equal of that album and has moments that rate with her best. While Woke Myself Up was a reunion of Doiron and her Eric's Trip bandmates, this time only Rick White is involved, providing bass, keyboards, and production. Recent collaborator Fred Squire rounds out the group on drums and some guitar, and between the three musicians they craft a sparse, sweet, and intimate album. Doiron's direct and focused lyrical style, her simple yet plaintive vocals, and her simple writing approach give the album the feel of a tender confession. The songs that stand out most are those that give the listener a boost, like the almost peppy "Consolation Prize" (though typically the bouncy hooks are matched with melancholy words), the lilting "Borrowed Minivans," or the perfect for driving through rain-slicked city streets at night "Lovers of the World." With a coating of fuzz and hiss, they could have been highlights on an Eric's Trip record. Without them, they are very good indie rock songs. Good as these uptempo songs are, the songs that pack the most emotional punch are the songs where Doiron's voice is paired with minimal musical backing. Blue's echoing electric guitar swoops can't cover the pain in Doiron's vocals and words, the simple chords and deliberate tempos of "Spill Yer Lungs" provide a steady foundation for Doiron to quietly spill her guts. Many singers would try to fill the space in these songs with vocal gymnastics or tricks, but she is content to stick within the boundaries of the song and this restraint ends up being one of her strongest points. The listener is never distracted from the blunt and real-sounding nature of the words on the sad songs, alternately you never get the feeling she is faking the few happy songs like "Glad to Be Alive" or "Nice to Come Home." The only song on the album that doesn't work is the dirge-y "Heavy Snow," where both the guitars and Doiron's voice end up getting carried away and overdoing things just a touch. Otherwise, I Can Wonder What You Did with Your Day is a solid addition to the catalog of one of the best underrated singer/songwriters around.

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