Those not predisposed to melancholy songs of domestic joy and sorrow might choke on Julie Doiron's naked, irony-free earnestness: Setting aside knee-jerk defenses to spare songs about family and feelings is necessary to enjoy Woke Myself Up, the Canadian singer-songwriter's seventh album. Re-teaming with members of her old band—the fuzzy, occasionally rocking Eric's Trip—Doiron adds mild punches to her simple, beautiful songs, allowing drums and more-than-just-hushed guitar a more prominent role than she has in years.
Which isn't to say Woke is volume-intensive: "Swan Pond" simply swirls around Doiron's voice and a simple guitar line while she pines. "Yer Kids" is even more bare-bones and hushed, but it provides a welcome juxtaposition to the songs in which she actually provides a pulse: "No More" chugs along with sad-eyed purpose, and "Dark Horse" bounces and twangs along enough that it might be mistaken for alt-country. Never, though, does Woke Myself Up beg (or even ask) for attention: Doiron's modus operandi is inward-looking and shy, whether she's whispering or, umm, singing quietly. It's a gamble in a look-at-me music world, but songs like "Me And My Friend" (guess what it's about) never suffer from the conceit that the whole planet wants to hear them. Those with a taste for the unadorned, pretty, and emotionally striking, though, couldn't do much better.