With her second album ‘First Flower’, Molly Burch showcases the much more nuanced and jazz stylings of her repertoire, with a finely crafted, forward thinking record.
A contemporary jazz album was perhaps the last type of album I imagined myself listening to this year. Purely because in 2018 it seems the more authentic and traditional styles of music are being abandoned in favour of bigger beats and hastily delivered lyrics. Thankfully, Molly Burch defies trends, opting to create a deeply personal yet relatable body of work that both soothes you, yet makes you think.
The album has a 50’s style ambience to it. Shut your eyes and you could easily picture yourself in a smokey lounge bar listening to Burch’s smooth vocals as she pours her heart across 11 autobiographical stories of self-doubt, anxiety and even freedom. Opening track ‘Candy’ immediately draws you into Burch’s world with a sucker punch, “Why do I care what you think? You’re not my father, don’t even bother, don’t bother me”. The record is full of these abrasive statements and questions to both herself and her beau.
The album is scattered with these moments, “It ain’t easy no more” and “I hope I forgive myself one day” Burch croons on ‘Dangerous Place’. These moments are always offset, however, by the albums idyllic nature. Not to mention Burch’s sensual, jazz croons. A style we saw earlier in the year with Kali Uchis’s debut in which some of her tracks would tiptoe into the genre.
There are moments, however, where Burch looks outwards and embraces an entire movement. ’To The Boys’ is the embodiment of this and it’s a clear highlight of the record. Burch tells the listener she doesn’t have to shout or scream to get her point across, and that’s something you can tell to the patriarchy. This is all laid on top of a dreamy, Hawaiian styled country rhythm. Another highlight is ‘Wild’ a track in which Burch uplifts and empowers a close female friend but also shows just a glint of envy of not being the wild extrovert just like ‘her baby’.
Most of the album segues effortlessly into one another, it’s the subtle changes and varied instrumentals that give the tracks tangible substance. Burch herself is the master of juxtaposition with her deeply personal tracks, their lyrics which read like diary entries shouldn’t fit alongside the tranquil, relaxing instrumentals. Burch's empowering jazz vocals, however, are the glue that fits all these pieces together. When all the elements inside each track work as one, the results are masterful.
The album only takes one left turn, that being concluding track ‘Every Little Thing’, an almost completely acoustic track if not for the light flutters of the harp throughout. Burch becoming the jazz heroes she’s long admired as she stretches and reaches her highest octave. fittingly ending on the lyric “I’ve worn my body down, I’m done”. The album has exhausted her, even the listener will feel fatigued after following Burch through her journey of the unloading and outpouring of all her emotions. It’s certainly a long 38 minutes, however, it’s most certainly a rewarding and enriching listen.