by Olivia Mastrosimone
Molly Burch overcomes anxieties and lets her inner strength shine on ‘First Flower,’ the anticipated follow-up album from the Austin-based singer-songwriter. Burch moves away from the heart and heartbreak of her debut album ‘Please Be Mine’ and puts her most intimate thoughts on display, exploring broken relationships and self-doubt with a voice like a folk-crooner and an unapologetic attitude on her powerful sophomore release.
As a testament to this attitude, ‘First Flower’ opens with the question “Why do I care what you think?” which seems to be a theme throughout the album. Burch seems to mix love, defiance, and realization with ease, creating a sound that is undeniably confident. The first two tracks, “Candy” and “Wild” are fun but introspective odes so free-spirited and fun you’ll be happy that it’s stuck in your head all day. But behind the pop sentiments and more superficial lyrics of the album’s singles, there is the raw emotion that sets this album apart from ‘Please Be Mine.’ “To the Boys” is just that – a bubblegum track with a much deeper meaning. The song opens with the lyrics “I’m not a quiet singer, but I’m a quiet talker,” which shows Burch making a statement about her anxieties off the stage. Listening to ‘First Flower,’ it is as if Burch is reclaiming her shyness. She has found a balance between her identity as a public figure and an introvert and created a home within her quiet personality. In “Dangerous Place,” Burch airs her fears and regrets in her mesmerizing, husky voice. Although the words “it ain’t easy no more” are guided so effortlessly by Burch, you almost don’t believe her.
“First Flower” isn’t completely without romance, and Burch has the unique ability to take a simple love song and keep it interesting. She takes a much more seductive persona on the title track, a love song for her boyfriend and band-mate, Dailey Toliver. She moves from the sultry verse to a chorus like a siren song, sure to lure any unsuspecting listener in with her airy voice cooing “you are my man” over, and over again. “Without You” is smooth but bouncing, a song of love and devotion, but also of self-acceptance. The ease of Burch’s dynamic talent is so clear in these tracks. Her refined style and self-awareness keep the romance of ‘First Flower’ engaging even with its simplistic feel.
Despite the emotional circumstances it came out of, there is something so easy about ‘First Flower,’ easy to listen to and easy to get lost in. The whimsical highs and sensual lows of Burch’s voice, the slow-burning, country-Western inspired melodies – it’s an endearing simplicity that speaks to the artist’s strong presence as a songwriter and performer. Burch seems to have hit her stride with ‘First Flower,’ finding a middle ground between emotional indulgence and emotional accessibility that showcases the best of her talent and personality.