by Kris Handel (@khandel84)
Quit the Curse is the solo debut record from Michigan's Anna Burch who has previously performed in Frontier Ruckus and Failed Flowers. Burch clearly has some of the folkier leanings left to her music but there is also a kinship to some early 90's indie-pop and and some bands from the heyday of Heavenly Records as well as some more popular "Alternative" singer songwriters from the mid to late 90s. Burch tackles a lot of themes of accepting the past and how to move forward from outcomes that may not have been ideal in a manner that is very relatable. There's a searching and thorough examination of one's self in play here and it creates an exciting listening experience without becoming trite or an emotional sledgehammer.
Quit the Curse starts off very strongly with the 1-2 punch of "2 Cool 2 Care" and "Tea Soaked Letter" that sets the bar for the record from the go. Burch clearly tackles the struggle of communicating in a relationship where the parties may have different expectations or levels of commitment. Burch's somewhat deadpan and ambivalent vocals are used to great effect and highlight the struggle with indifference and emotional and chemical dependence in both songs. There's also a strong sense of self-efficacy in both songs despite some underlying self-doubt.
On the title track Burch tackles her feelings over possibly revisiting a previous relationship and the dynamics of how to cope interpersonally over a bubbling and insistent bassline. One of the highlights of the record is "In Your Dreams" where Burch has to reconcile the difference between an ideal of a relationship and the reality of not always being on the same page with a partner and her own part in such a dynamic. "What I Want" is a jangly meditation on being willing on acceptance and the ability to move forward in a mature way instead of falling into a pit of self pity.
For a "debut" solo outing, filled with so much self-exploration and what you can and can not give in relationships and other aspects of life, Burch has created a strong and impassioned record. There's a lot to digest in all of the questions she poses to herself (or her characters) as well as to the listener, which creates an emotional bond for those willing to invest in the experience. Burch and band keep the record moving with some inventive layering of multi-tracked guitars and vocals always throwing something in to keep the audience's attention. There's an air of ease and ambivalence to it that is also warm and inviting and lends itself to multiple listenings without fatigue. This record has the ability to reach the listener on many levels and may lead to some self-exploration of your own (or at least did with me) and it is all the more enjoyable for it.