Music

Anna Burch Creates a Sophisticated Slice of Indie Dream-Pop with 'If You're Dreaming'

Photo: John Hanson / Courtesy of Riot Act Media

Anna Burch's sophomore album, If You're Dreaming, is a jazzy, sophisticated, timeless joy from start to finish.

If You're Dreaming
Anna Burch

Polyvinyl

3 April 2020

The songs on If You're Dreaming, the second album from Anna Burch, don't so much play as they do float by. There's deliberate, lazy pacing to her woozy dream-pop, but underneath that layer of sophisticated, measured arrangements is a startling collection of indie-pop gems. Her first album, Quit the Curse (2018), had a slightly more jittery immediacy. Here, the edges are sanded down. Tracked with producer Sam Evian at his home studio in the Catskills, Burch worked with self-imposed deadlines to create an album that sounds lusher but with a sharper focus.

"Can't Sleep" opens the album with a loping, steady beat and lyrics that may or may not be about insomnia. "Uptight," she sings. "You can't sleep at night / Nothing's ever right / 'Til it's gone." The languid dreaminess continues with "Party's Over", which is infused with what sounds like a slight dose of '90s-era indie-pop. The arrangements get even richer with "Jacket", using subtle yet bracing quasi sci-fi effects and spacey guitar figures, which only add to the timelessness of the songs.

Another interesting aspect of If You're Dreaming is the inclusion of two short instrumental interludes that add to the mysterious nature of the album and are both unpredictable and oddly welcome. "Keep It Warm" is a gorgeous palate cleanser with evocative touches framed by simple acoustic guitar picking. "Picture Show" features slowly paced, reverb-drenched surf guitar that evokes the feel of a moody film score. The idea of these interludes seems odd, but they somehow manage to fit the album like a glove.

Among the album's other highlights is the striking, beautiful "Tell Me What's True", which sounds like a long-forgotten, low-key AM radio single, complete with warm electric piano and a sparse, gentle sigh of an arrangement. "Not So Bad" is a bright slice of introspective folk that's bolstered by the unexpected presence of subtle saxophones, as well as jazzy lead guitar lines that are subtly tucked away in the mix. "What is this instinct," she sings, "To hate on everything?"

There's an intimate feel to "Here With You", a closing track that begins with utterly charming, folky acoustic guitar strumming and Burch's vocals, which take on a jazzy, Astrud Gilberto feel. When electric guitars and the rest of the instruments join in during the chorus and Burch sings, "when I'm here with you", the result is the warm, rich sound of inclusiveness. Anna Burch has pulled off the trick of creating an album that draws from the well of indie pop but also includes atmospheric vocal jazz and gentle folk to create something sophisticated, mesmerizing, and utterly timeless.

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