Anna Burch's 'If You're Dreaming' Review: A soothing release that sets Burch on a journey of honest exploration
Anna Burch released her second album 'If You're Dreaming' on April 3 and it's a solid sophomore release that distinguishes her as an artiste all on her own.
Burch initially began playing music as part of Frontier Ruckus before taking a break to attend grad school and returning to music again in 2014. In addition to her first group, she was also part of Failed Flowers where she wrote and recorded several demos as part of both groups.
It was only after musician Paul Cherry convinced her to put them out did Burch finally release her debut album 'Quit the Curse' in 2018.
Her first album was filled with an energetic sound, including "jangly guitars, blithe vocal harmonies and an occasional undercurrent of grungy fuzz all converged in seemingly straightforward songs that hid their complexities under sunny hooks."
Put more simply, it was a record that got you pumped up and was sure to put a smile on your face.
However, if you expected anything similar in her new album, you would be quite surprised. Where 'Quit the Curse' externalized your emotions and made you rejoice out loud, 'If You're Dreaming' is introspective and personal.
It's quieter, explorative and goes far deeper than its predecessor. And that makes for a wonderfully immersive experience.
This record was penned by Burch in the small moments she got away from her hectic tour schedule. That meant she was writing from a space of constant upheaval and exhaustion.
But when the madness of it all came to a halt as the tour ended, Burch took on a more thoughtful approach to creating, including spending some time on coming up with unconventional chord changes and stringing together ideas that underscored the three years since her debut.
This is an album that was created with purpose and direction, so when Burch's calming vocals sing about how "nothing's ever right" on 'Can't Sleep', how she's "so tired" on 'Party's Over', or how she "Thought [she] knew how to love" on 'Here With You', you believe every word she says. Because what you're hearing is the voice of someone that is telling an honest and personal story.
Lyrically, 'Tell Me When It's True' and 'Every Feeling' are absolute standouts. The former documents how one's perspective can be skewed to the point of not being able to tell what's real or not anymore unless someone you trust and confide in can confirm it for you while the latter speaks of how "we've commodified every feeling" and how this affects a relationship.
The album is also seamlessly cut by two instrumental tracks 'Keep It Warm' and 'Picture Show' which beautifully furthers the narrative being told, so much so you don't even notice they contain no vocals.
'If You're Dreaming', essentially, is less a collection of songs and more an "interconnected emotional arc", as Riot Act Media so succinctly puts it. With this album, we get to sense what it feels like to just be.
Because sometimes, life can be a little tiring. It's melancholic, but in no way draining. On the contrary, somehow, it makes you feel much better once you're through.
With this album, Burch creates something that is languorous and soothing. And it solidifies Burch's skills as a singer, songwriter and musician and established a sound that is unique to her.
She draws inspiration from artistes like the late indie-rocker Elliott Smith and indie-dream-pop and shoegaze band Alvvays, and these influences have always been evident in Burch's work.
However, with 'If You're Dreaming', the singer appears to have found more of her own style, one that hints at her roots but doesn't in any way find itself overpowered by them. And while that in no way diminishes the beauty of Burch's earlier work, it does speak volumes about how far she's come as an artist.
With this release, Burch is making her mark as her own artiste. One who draws from all things she finds inspiring and channels it into her own unique sound. You have no idea where she'll go next, and that makes sticking around for the ride totally worth it.