Secret Meeting score: 74
by Mark Jackson and Philip Moss
Detroit singer-songwriter, Anna Burch, is no newcomer after spending a decade with critically acclaimed Michigan-based, Frontier Ruckus. But when producer Fred Thomas heard her latest batch of demos last summer, he couldn’t wait to send them over to his label, Polyvinyl, with a simple message: “This is not a drill. You need to hear this.” Thus resulting in her debut solo record, Quit the Curse.
Opener, 2 Cool 2 Care, breezes by with a wash of Dear Catastrophe Waitress-era Belle and Sebastian chord changes, as Burch’s juxtaposed lyrics narrate the emotional break up which is woven throughout the record. And despite her stoic public appearance, emphasised through her ironically nonchalant vocal delivery, it’s a different story behind closed doors. ‘When I get home, I can’t be alone- can’t you see? You scare me with your indifference.’
Quit The Curse is an album full of catchy and fresh sounding indie-pop. Yet, there is a feeling of familiarity, as though the tracks have a place deep within your consciousness. Burch’s heartfelt lyrics continue over fuzzy, 90’s alt-guitars on Tea Soaked Letter, as she tracks the communication breakdown lamented on the album’s opener – ‘Strange the ones you love could bury your body underground.’ While With You Every Day carries the same hazy imagery as the floral wallpaper and early morning sunlight that bounces against her face on the record’s sleeve.
Lazy comparisons would be Angel Olsen, Julia Jacklin and Jen Cloher, but this record has more than enough to stand apart. And this is no more evident than on title track, Quit The Curse – the record’s most outright pop moment – which fizzes by in a blur of 60’s girl group melodies and Breeders-evoking guitars. But despite the shimmering soundtrack, the contrary nature of her mood doesn’t cease – ‘Seeing you again could only make me. Kissing you again would probably break me.’
Little fuss has been given to arrangements; in fact what we have is the basic band starter pack of two guitars, drums and bass. The album’s true charm comes with the simplicity of the music which allows attention to centre on the highly melodic vocal lines. The guest appearance of pedal guitar on the charming Belle Isle complements a beautiful tale which marks a change in mood as she reflects more objectively on the realistic excitement of entering into a new relationship – ‘You seem so cool in all that you do to make me feel like a lady. I wish you would hold me in your arms like the night we made out on Belle Isle. I know there won’t always be fireworks, but we saw them that night.’
In some ways, February might seem like an odd time to release a record filled with such sprightly sunshine hooks. But Quit The Curse is a 32-minute snapshot into Burch’s world, and has enough lyrical melancholy to fit the long winter months and the summer festival season alike.