Even at its most introverted, “If You’re Dreaming” is always warm and present. The new album of Anna Burch is a deliberately drawn chapter of her work. She has trading in the wild-eyed and sometimes neurotic party hopping of previous album “Quit the Curse”, for a more solitary walk after midnight. Daring and clear-headed, these songs cut deeper in their subtleties. “If You’re Dreaming” moves with intention, taking its time revealing new layers of sophistication and growth in Burch’s always charming songcraft. “If You’re Dreaming” is the result of a slow, thoughtful and intentional writing process. This was followed by a swift, focused but somehow also relaxed recording period with producer Sam Evian in his home studio in the Catskill mountains of upstate New York.
After months on the road in support of album “Quit the Curse”, Anna Burch disappeared for a while. The long stretches of touring had been broken up by only a few weeks off here and there, and a month spent writing in Berlin between European dates. The time she did get to spend at home in Detroit was disrupted by several unexpected housing changes, adding to the transient feelings brought on by constant touring. When things finally stabilized, Burch encamped into a slow, thoughtful and intentional writing process for what would become the second album. Days were spent playing guitar, exploring unconventional chord changes, ruminating on song structures and allowing her subconscious to wander until lyrics materialized. Though about half of the songs were already written, this time was dedicated to taking a closer look at the loose ends of three years of ideas and seeing if there were common threads that held them together.
During the process of recording Burch and Evian worked with self-imposed time limitations to establish a sharper focus and get to the core of the new songs. The work was swift but somehow more relaxed. It was locked into a groove of tracking the basic elements and then expanding on the arrangements with overdubs and auxiliary instrumentation. The end goal was to present not just an assortment of new songs, but to craft an album that moved dynamically through an interconnected emotional arc. With recurring themes of isolation, weariness and longing, these songs deliver that emotional arc with a delicate but uncompromising execution.
Burch’s intrinsically catchy songwriting dials down the urgency of her debut a notch, taking a turn towards airy, jazz-voiced chords, floating reverb and an expansion of the sonic palate with unexpected instrumentation. The soft-rock bass grooves and understated saxophone lines of “Not So Bad” push an impressive pop structure into exciting new territory. The sweetly melancholic “Tell Me What’s True” centers around muted electric piano, its languid but metered vibe recalling the gentler side of Carole King. “If You’re Dreaming” was released last Spring. It turned out to be the perfect soundtrack for the quarantine for many music fans. Because of the pandemic the US and European album release tour is rescheduled to the Fall of this year and Spring next year. More information here