Anna Burch started the follow up to 2018’s ‘Quit The Curse’ with intentionality. Returning from tour with a handful of songs, Burch unspooled the patterns she had knitted, remodelling the songs from the common threads she discovered. A sense of weariness lay hidden underneath the blankets, a sonic tapestry which she’d eventually shroud the album in once she’d decamped to the Catskill mountains of upstate New York with producer Sam Evian. If Burch’s indie pop debut hit like a gale-force wind, ‘If You’re Dreaming’ is content to unlatch the window, the cold chill gradually gaining on the room’s farthest corners.
‘Jacket’ is perhaps where this gravitational shift pricks most sharply. Drowsy guitars blossom ever so slowly, as Burch half-awake, observes “She left her jacket / guess she don’t need it”. Sometimes, self-destructively, we house ourselves in the clothes left behind by former lovers, longing for their touch, their warmth. Burch is forever asking for people to stay a while longer, the disappointment when they don’t filtering through to the record’s pervading inertia. On ‘Tell Me What’s True’ she craves for the presence of a friend who knows her more than herself, “Don’t go I need you / to tell me what is true”. She’s threatened by a sense of incompleteness when loved ones aren’t there to fill the gap, “I’m so much better when you’re around” she regrets on ‘Not So Bad’, the record’s most immediate track.
Two guitar-led instrumentals, ‘Keep It Warm’ and ‘Picture Show’ highlight Burch’s unwavering dedication to craft a perfect tapestry, these gentle idles transforming her vision into high-definition. She loses her aim ever so slightly on ‘Every Feeling’, pushing her point home so hard that it becomes a little cumbersome.
That aside, ‘If You’re Dreaming’ is a remarkable success. Whilst ‘Quit The Curse’ was invested in the immediate, her follow-up succeeds in germinating an initial thought, its impact growing over time.