While the name Julie Doiron probably doesn't mean a thing to most American music listeners, in Canada she's all that and a bag of chips. Doiron's latest musical excursion, Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars (recorded with her band, the Wooden Stars), recently earned her a Juno award (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy). Of course, this is nothing new for Doiron -- she's been in the Juno-nominated position before, as a member of Eric's Trip, a jammy, stripped-down acoustic band of Canadian hippies who were critical darlings for most of their six-year existence, during which they released three albums on Sub Pop Records.
Doiron's new album, the follow-up to her 1999 EP "Will You Still Love Me," is a minor masterpiece, filled with brooding melancholy that stops just short of being morose -- the track "The Last Time" offers this poignant insight: "I'm only pretty when I'm crying." Although she's often compared to Joni Mitchell, Doiron's moody minor-key whispers make Mitchell seem almost giddy by comparison, begging perhaps a closer kinship with the late Nick Drake in mood and presentation. Doiron begins hammering on the world with a vengeance this year, as she hits the road with the Stars to promote their album. The constant will be Doiron's evocative, spartan presentation and songs that boast an almost joyous melancholy. The word "dichotomy" comes into play almost constantly when discussing the tone and style of Julie Doiron's dark music -- suggesting that Juno might have more merit than she thinks. -- Brian Baker