Molly Burch - First Flower

by Brian Thompson Rating:9 Release Date:2018-10-05
Molly Burch - First Flower
Molly Burch - First Flower

With Molly Burch’s 2017 debut, Please Be Mine, the Austin singer-songwriter reexamined the trauma of loss, performing an emotional autopsy and opening up old wounds to retrace the steps that brought her there. On her divine follow-up, Burch reports back with what she’s learned from the experience. With her tireless brand of breezy, sun-drenched jangle pop, First Flower uses an intense blend of anxious confessionals and sleepy island reveries to both impart astute wisdom obtained through lovelorn hardship and work through lingering insecurities with the listener in tow.

Seating us at the corner booth of a smoky nightclub, Burch crafts a fully realized universe and completely submerges her audience within it. Similar to Angel Olsen, she provides a 21st-century update on  Golden Age girl groups and classic jazz singers like Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. Her short, zippy tracks pack quite a punch, with songs like “Candy,” “Wild,” and “Good Behavior” flowing over the listener in a dreamy, hypnotic whirlwind. These beach-ready bangers are every bit as hard-hitting as chilling ballads like ”Every Little Thing.”

It is, of course, in her resolute lyricism where Burch truly distinguishes herself from the pack. Audacious and open-veined, she walks us through both her triumphs and anxieties in eleven vignettes that play like a private diary entry. With deeply introspective tracks like album standout “Dangerous Place,” Burch looks to the past for guidance moving into the future: ”I hope I learn from my mistakes / I hope I forgive myself one day.” That soul-searching uncertainty is later coupled with an undaunted embrace of personal identity, as we see on the anthemic “To the Boys”: ”I don’t need to scream to get my point across / I don’t need to yell to know that I’m the boss.”

The record incorporates deeply resonant love songs (“Without You,” “Nothing to Say”) that come from a place of extreme yearning, but they are also presented with counterpoint sister songs. Somber moments like “Next to Me” explore the kind of isolation that can only come from feeling stranded in a disheartening romantic relationship. In these delicate touches, Burch seeps directly into the vein, using a simple yet effective phrase to nimbly carve her point into the consciousness of the listener, as with the persistent, otherworldly refrain of “First Flower”: “You are my man.”

With nearly universal emotional reverberation and unflinching aesthetic appeal, this is the kind of art that inspires creativity in the hearts of those who consume it. Burch isn’t simply a fledgling performer to keep an eye on; she’s already proven herself as a remarkably gifted artisan. First Flower is one of 2018’s finest recordings, and even if she never plays another note, Molly Burch has already delivered a superb body of work with this extraordinary album.

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars
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