Even in an office in broad daylight, Julie Byrne sings with both a husk and a whisper as if she's gone a long time without speaking - as if she's been alone, as if she's been traveling. Her opening number at the Tiny Desk, "Sleepwalking," sings of the road as a source of freedom.
I lived my life alone before you
And with those that I'd never succeeded to love
And I grew so accustomed to that kind of solitude
I fought you, I did not know how to give it up
Julie Byrne's hypnotic fingerstyle picking conjures a sense of wandering, a style she adapted from her father and a sound she grew up with until multiple sclerosis robbed him of that companionship and comfort. She now plays her dad's guitar.
For me, the mark of a great artist is transformation - the ability to take me far from my everyday thoughts - to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, or at least to see it in a different way. After performing "Sleepwalker" alone, Julie Byrne was joined by her musical companions, Marilu Donovan on harp and Eric Littmann on electronics. Together they conjure an ethereal compliment to Julie's love of the open landscape – I'm transported.
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Bronson Arcuri, Kara Frame; Production Assistant: Dina Kesbeh; Photo: Morgan Noelle Smith/NPR