The Bowery Presents:
w/ Molly Burch
Friday, August 18th, 2017
Doors 9:00PM / Show 9:30PM
Lucy Dacus’s No Burden is full of surprises — sharp lyrical observations, playful turns of musical phrase, hooks that’ll embed themselves in your frontal lobe for days. But the most surprising thing about this album might be the fact that it’s a debut; it has a keen sense of self about it, and it nearly glows from the self-possession held by the woman at its core.
The 21-year-old Dacus grew up in Richmond; she was adopted at a young age, an experience that informed her curious, openhearted songwriting. “When my parents were explaining what adoption was — which was very early on in my childhood — they always said that my birthmother thought I was worthwhile even though she couldn’t be my mom,” she says. “And so from essentially infancy, I was taught that life was innately worthwhile because a bunch of people had worked together to set me up with one.
“Every other philosophy of mine has been built on that foundation,” she continues. “Humans want this experience for each other; there has to be some reason why. I seem to always end up trying to write and understand how we can live the most worthwhile life, and therefore how we hold each other up from getting there.”
Dacus started playing around Richmond while in college, opening for local acts and eventually meeting Jacob Blizard, a guitarist who invited her to make a record for a college project of his. No Burden, which originally came out in February on the Richmond label EggHunt Records, opens with the forthright, almost brutally honest “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore,” the last song Dacus wrote before the album’s day-long recording session at Starstruck Studios in Nashville. Dacus delivers scalpel-sharp observations about resisting pigeonholing over chunky guitars, ticking off ideals of femininity and youth until the track’s not-quite-resolution.
These themes extend to the lyrics of songs like “Strange Torpedo,” a whirling portrait of a friend whose “bunch of bad habits” who, Dacus sings, has “been falling for so long… [and hasn’t] hit anything solid yet.” “I’ve been that friend watching a loved one do what they know is bad for them and not understanding why,” says Dacus. The song offers a simple message: “‘I love you, why don’t you love you? You’re the one in your body so you get to choose what to do with it, but if I were you I’d treat me differently.'”
The rest of No Burden, which was produced by Collin Pastore, puts Dacus’s voice center stage, allowing the glinting poetry of her lyrics to shine even more brightly. “Trust,” which Dacus wrote in late 2013, showcases her alone with her guitar, her faint vibrato floating over strummed chords as she sings of self-redemption. And the diptych “Dream State…” and .”..Familiar Place,” which revolve around Dacus repeating “Without you, I am surely the last of our kind/ Without you, I am surely the last of my kind,” capture disappointment and loss in a jaw-dropping way; the music trembles around her while her voice stays steady, anticipating whatever might come next.
No Burden is a forthright, disarmingly catchy statement. And while it’s a sterling debut, it only hints at the potential possessed by this passionate, thoughtful young woman. – Maura Johnston
Molly Burch was exposed to the arts at an early age. Growing up in Los Angeles with a writer/producer father and a casting director mother, Burch’s childhood was filled with old Hollywood musicals and the sounds of Patsy Cline, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. After finding her voice in adolescence, Burch packed up for the University of North Carolina in Asheville to study Jazz Vocal Performance.
“I was always really interested in singing before songwriting. I didn’t have the confidence to write,” Molly says, “Initially it was more about finding the right songs to complement my voice.” And that voice is the first thing you’ll notice on Burch’s debut album, Please Be Mine. It’s smoky, with an incredible range, effortlessly evocative of her early influences. It was in Asheville where Burch would meet guitarist Dailey Toliver, who plays on her debut, and who inspired much of its music.
Searching for a bigger pond, Burch moved to Austin, Texas in an effort to stand on her own two feet. There, Burch began to write her own music in earnest, with the lovelorn Everly Brothers and Sam Cooke as her songwriting guides. Joined by Toliver in Austin a year later, the two connected with Dan Duszynski of Cross Record, and they recorded all the songs on Please Be Mine at his idyllic studio in Dripping Springs, Texas. Motivated by the hourly rate, Burch and her band recorded all the basic tracks and vocals live in one room and in one day, with minimal overdubs for keys and back-up vocals happening a day later. A difficult task for any talented musician, it becomes more mind-blowing when you hear her belt it on tracks like “Downhearted” and “I Love You Still.”
We’re all lucky Molly started writing music simply to complement her voice, as we’ve discovered a great new American songwriter in the process. Captured Tracks is proud to present this debut album of ten beautiful, wistful love songs of loss, loneliness and reconnecting.