Julie Doiron’s increasingly exciting solo career has long since surpassed her formative years spent with 1990s noise-pop stars Eric’s Trip, her five confessional albums making her one of the most well-respected artists in today’s singer-songwriter / indie-folk commune. It’s just about time that Jagjaguwar picked up this long since out-of-print debut album, originally issued under the Broken Girl moniker back in 1995. They’ve even added the songs (and artwork) from her first two 7” singles as well. This is indeed 2003’s first essential re-release.
Broken Girl offers remarkable proof that Doiron’s capacity for grandness was always there. She may have become a more careful arranger over the years, but the carefulness of her performance and her songwriting was there from the start. This is an intimate and sensual album carved out of her indie rock roots, but delivered in a folksy, dream-like manner. Often there’s only a strummed electric guitar and Doiron’s husky voice. At other times more instruments are added with a subtle touch: the pulsating drums on “Soon, Coming Closer,” the tinkling piano on “Sorry Story,” the harmonica on “Happy Lucky Girl.”
The decision to include her first two 7” singles seems to be a very wise one. 1993’s Dog Love Part II is her first solo effort and welcome proof that she’s human after all. Her songwriting is as intriguing as ever, but it’s an unsteady lo-fi affair and the single’s four songs are somewhat clumsily rendered. The following year’s Nora single is a remarkable musical leap, the three songs on here all measuring up against the following year’s Broken Girl album. Also included is her first stab at “Dance Music,” the song that eventually resurfaced in 2000 on Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars.
The songs are teasingly brief, Doiron says what she has to say and then moves on. Broken Girl and the included bonus singles are more sonically diverse than later efforts, which some may want to put down as a lack of refinement at this early stage in her career. But there’s no denying Doiron’s impeccable songwriting and her clear understanding of what she’s aiming for.
Jagjaguwar Records: http://www.jagjaguwar.com/