This post is supplementary to my article on Examiner.com.
I’m definitely a fan of local talent, and always appreciate the opportunity to check out new material. But to be honest, now that pretty much everyone and their uncle can make a record, I usually start out not expecting too much. Even among the stuff that isn’t “bad”, there’s so much to compete with that it all sort of blends into a sea of “okay” material, and it takes a little more oomph to rise above the noise.
So when Denver roots-rock singer Megan Burtt‘s new release It Ain’t Love showed up in my mailbox, I put the CD in the car stereo (yes, I’m still early ’90s that way) and drove around, running my errands, half-listening and half-thinking about my errands, to see if anything would arrest my attention.
I got out of the car and went into the store…and I noticed the song I’d been was listening to was still playing in my head. Good sign.
I kept listening. While style-wise there wasn’t much I hadn’t heard before, still these moments of promise kept happening–a powerful lyric, a captivating vocal, an interesting guitar riff. I’d put the CD back on and listen some more. And some more. It wasn’t a lightning-bolt-from-heaven kind of thing; it was more like a slow burn that grew on me…enough to keep me listening, drawing me in. I kept finding these treasure-moments, and I’d go back and listen to those moments again. Yeah, she’s got it, I thought. There’s definitely something there.
It really is a solid recording, well-engineered, musically consistent, good arrangements of the tunes–and it doesn’t sound like it was recorded in someone’s closet. Burtt shows a lot of range, both as a vocalist and a songwriter. Dealing mainly with the darker aspects of love and relationships, the album has a bit of a brooding tone, sometimes angry, sometimes reflective, sometimes cyncial. It plays like a coming-to-grips record, an honest processing of disappointment and pain.
For me, personally, the second half of the record is stronger than the first. The early cuts aren’t turn-offs or anything…just not as much there to hook you, just enough to maybe keep you listening. It’s like the record really starts taking off around the fourth song; and from that point on, you start seeing a lot more of what Megan Burtt is capable of. Surprisingly, the standout moment of the record for me is the middle ballad, “Moves.” Sparse arrangements, passionate-yet-controlled vocals, and a memorable lyric come together and create this sort of magical moment. If all the tracks captured this combination of artistry and passion, the record could easily be a Grammy contender. More, please.
All told, I think It Ain’t Love is a strong showing for a singer-songwriter with lots of promise. Take a listen for yourself, go buy the record, and sit with it awhile, like I did. It will make you a fan. It will be exciting to watch and see what Megan Burtt does next.
Oomph scale: 8.5