Anna Burch’s last album Quit the Curse was full of smart, understated indie pop that quietly sparkled. After a busy schedule of touring she returns with a new album If You’re Dreaming, which was recorded with producer Sam Evian at his studio in the Catskills. Musically the songs on the album are slow and gentle, suggesting a songwriter learning how to go at her own pace.
From the opening song Burch’s sweet voice and melodies are given time to breathe. Can’t Sleep is written in second person, a way to make her lyrics more universal to anyone who might also be going through it. Seems everything you do gets undone, she sighs at one point in the song and we all know that feeling.
Insomnia and exhaustion are themes which reoccur on the record. I’m so tired, she sings on Party’s Over and that feeling is reflected in the music too. Jacket is even slower, letting the music quietly fade in and out, with an almost spoken word vocal speed that reflects her inner turmoil.
Many of these songs question relationships and identity too. So I Can See is about breaking free of someone until you have found yourself. Ask Me To isn’t afraid to admit her own mistakes in relationships. On Tell Me What’s True there’s confusion in her search for clarity. Each song is sung in a way like she’s taking her time to slowly think and really try to get inside her own feelings.
The instrumental Keep It Warm sounds like a perfect score to a sad indie movie about a someone stuck in a humdrum existence, finding comfort in dreaming about a better world. It’s no surprise to me that’s Burch studied filmmaking since there is something cinematic about her style. This and the other instrumental Picture Show offer the listener little interludes, like an invitation for our busy minds to take a welcome breather.
Every Feeling is a perfect example of how well the shift to a more layered and lush sound really complements her songwriting. The album finishes on the hopeful Here With You, celebrating the simple happiness of just being with someone.
If You’re Dreaming is a wistful and wise album, proving Burch is not afraid to question possibilities and push herself in new directions. Not everything has to be rushed. Take a deep breath and sink into the dreamworld of this one.
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