Anna Burch - If You’re Dreaming (CD Poly Vinyl Records)

“When I used to hate myself, I saw things so clearly” Anna Burch purrs on ‘Tell Me What’s True’. This is not the opening line to her second album ‘If You’re Dreaming’, but it is probably the one that sums it up the most. It is devastating, in a self-depreciating kind of way. A way that immediately makes you feel comfortable. Then you hear the music. Burch has stripped everything back from her 2018 debut ‘Quit the Curse’. That album was full of bustling pop, jangling guitars, and glorious harmonies. Now Burch has gone back to basics. Whereas the focus of that album was to create a wall of fuzzy sound, now that focus is on Burch, and more importantly her voice.

The difference between the albums is striking and feels like it is made by a different person. In a way it was. After a rigorous few month on the road, Burch was not the same person. She had not spent a lot of time at home, so when she did Burch started to explore her internal world more. This is reflected in this new collection of songs. ‘Ask Me To’ is one of the standout tracks on an album full of standout moments. It opens with Burch gentling trilling “It's all around me. Do not know it is true. We cannot depend on. What they might do. And it will not be long. Before it hits. Like too much wine on empty stomachs”. This is a feeling we have all felt. A sinking feeling in the stomach that never really leaves and gives off a feeling a nausea. Musically Burch arranged a song full of lithe guitars and drums that allow her vocals to gracefully float above them, them steam gently rising above a cup of tea. ‘Keep it Warm’ is a short instrumental that shows that Burch can deliver a massive emotional impact even when she is not singing. It is a shame that the album did not feature another couple, to be used a pallet cleanser, or to group a series of sonic suites together.  

‘If You’re Dreaming’ is the kind of album that requires time. Time to immerse yourself in her elegant stories. Time to listen to the album until you can start to notice the subtle changes that were imperceptible before. Time to get lost in the almost cavernous space between the instruments and her vocals and time to find yourself in Bruch’s delicate lyrics. Just as she found herself when she was writing it. NR