Molly Burch might not be dynamic in her lyrical themes, but she musters a tone that illustrates that she is a complex character. Comparisons to Angel Olsen aside — they both share a folk twang and vocal style — Burch’s concern with love is almost that of an obsession. The songs on the Austin-based artist’s debut Please Be Mine demonstrate this with the loss of grace, like intoxication has taken over higher faculties. Simple love songs become believable moments of desperation for the artist, and this true feeling seldom falters. This consistency becomes a double-edged sword that brings the question: is there something more?
The question should not be disconcerting for an artist who can subtly meld blues and country into her folk sound. “Please Be Mine” is unassuming, taking its listener through an initially calm night, only to have Burch latch on to her lover with each mutter of “please”. It is crushing: if its audience performs the character of the lover, one cannot back away with pride. This singer-songwriter ebbs on your spirit with the simplest of loving words.
Please Be Mine is not a happy record; it is instead one that shows Burch at her weakest. As a lover, she is candid to an audience that might not have accepted her had she not put enough emotion into her work. The singer makes the claim that she is her lover’s pet more than once, both as a proclamation that she feels safe with this other and to show that Burch would feel lost without them (“Try”, “I Love You Still”). When in an unstable state of mind, she questions herself, laughing at her decisions with a sardonic tone (“Loneliest Heart”, “Fool”).
Ultimately, there is a vagueness to Burch’s lyrics that do not push for a full understanding of the artist. Tracks like “Please Forgive Me” and “I Love You Still” settle for ambiguity in their words. The former suggests that Burch does not know why she left her lover, while the latter questions how to love the other in the right way. It becomes less a matter of confusion and more an issue of simplicity. If the pondering drove her crazy, she could have painted a more vivid picture of her woes. These questions should not have a neutral tone within an album so laced with desire, especially for one person.
There are always two sides to one story, yet Please Be Mine settles that we do not need to hear both. Molly Burch resides in a realm where emotive passion transcends some of the lyrical vagueness that appears. It would be interesting to look at how the artist would live without this other, to be a stray when she would otherwise cling. The world with another feels very constricted in Burch’s words, and to see how expanded things can be mean so many possibilities for the songwriter. But, if one thing is for sure, her rehabilitation from love will be a long and self-searching process. She cannot rush the world.