Anna Burch – ‘If You’re Dreaming’ album review

Anna Burch If You're Dreaming album review 2020 Polyvinyl Records

Anna Burch follows up 2018’s glorious debut ‘Quit the Curse’ with ‘If You’re Dreaming’ – an album written after months on the road and significant upheaval in her personal life. Tracked with producer (and acclaimed singer-songwriter in his own right) Sam Evian at his home studio in upstate New York, the songs were recorded against self-imposed time limitations and they find Anna pondering on themes of isolation, weariness and longing.

The opening ‘Can’t Sleep’ is filled with Pavement-style guitar hooks and anti-folk sentiments as Anna asks ‘Are you gonna see this though? Seems that every thing you do is undone’. Following this, the album harks back to the jangly and quirky indie pop sound that served Anna so well on the first album with ‘Party’s Over’: ‘When the summer ends, baby’s got the bends. Do we have to go?’ ‘Jacket’ is altogether more eerie with soulful vocals and blasts of M. Ward-esque guitar as Anna offers her thoughts on a loved one’s relationship: ‘She still makes you sad. I can’t help with that’. There are more jangly moments (and a booming bass line to boot) on ‘So I Can See’, and it’s here where Anna admits ‘I got to stay away until I know who to be’ before the album veers into a woozy and dreamy soundscape on powerful ‘Ask Me To’. Imagine Kevin Krauter covering Phoebe Bridgers and you’re halfway there…

‘Go It Alone’ has more emo sensibilities as Anna shows her frustration at the song’s subject’s (in)actions: ‘After two years, I think you know everyone here. When you move your mouth, you just bum everyone out’; ‘You won’t go home, won’t even pick up the phone’. ‘Tell Me What’s True’ finds Anna grappling with trying to live with a more positive mindset (‘When I used to hate myself, I saw things so clearly. Now I can only see when the lights shine on me’; ‘My perspective’s skewed. Don’t know what to do’) while celebrating companionship. ‘Not So Bad’ is packed with heartfelt lyrics as Anna talks about new relationships and how they can help you grow: ‘What is this instinct to hate on everything?’; ‘I’m so much better when you’re around’.

There are swaying tones and so much passion on display in the penultimate ‘Every Feeling’ while the closing ‘Here With You’ has a more reflective tone: ‘I’m here with you’. Full of intelligent indie-pop hooks and shrewd observations, Anna Burch’s second album has everything you wished for.

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