Heartbreak inspires Austin’s Molly Burch on new record 'Please Be Mine'
Growing up the shy daughter of parents in the movie business in Los Angeles, Molly Burch didn't discover her singing voice until her early teens, when she would do impressions of other singers for her sister.
“It began as a joke to get laughs or attention, and then I felt like, maybe I can sing and I don't have to impersonate Britney Spears,” Burch said recently by phone while on tour in Georgia. “It took all of high school to get the confidence to pursue [singing]. I'd always been interested in it. I just didn't think I had what it took.”
At UNC Asheville, Burch studied jazz vocal performance, gravitating toward singers like Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, though her biggest lessons in college came from the times she ventured out into Asheville and began singing in clubs — an experience that wracked her nerves but got easier over time.
In Asheville, Burch met guitarist Dailey Toliver, who also tours and records with Ohio-rooted songwriter Adam Torres. Toliver and Burch dated for about 18 months and then broke up in 2013, at which point Burch abruptly packed up and moved to Austin.
“I think I was in crisis and acting impulsively and kind of manic,” Burch said. “I'd also met someone else, so I was leaving and then jumping into this new relationship. It was this great shock of, ‘What have I done? I don't know anyone here, and I've also hurt this person so much in trying to find independence.' I was dealing with all those emotions after the fact.”
Burch channeled that relationship turmoil into songwriting, penning songs about heartbreak that ended up on her debut album, Please Be Mine, which she released last month — the same week as Valentine's Day. “A lot of it is inspired by breaking up and then reconnecting,” said Burch, who has since made amends with Toliver; the guitarist moved to Austin and contributed to the record and also tours with Burch. “He's a big part of my life,” she said.
Burch will visit Ohio for the first time with Toliver and the rest of the band for a performance at Sick Weekend 2, held at Ace of Cups from Thursday, March 23 through Saturday, March 25 (Burch will play at 7 p.m. on Friday).
Please Be Mine sounds as if it could have been recorded late at night in a dusty club at any point in the last 40 years. Part of that vintage sound comes from Burch's slightly smoky, timeless voice (think Angel Olsen with a little Patsy Cline), and part of it comes from recording the album's 10 tracks live.
“In general, I'm drawn to older jazz but also '60s pop music and French pop from that time,” she said. “I think recording it live is in that same vein of how people used to record. … I wanted it to feel relatable. Hopefully it comes off as a warm record.”