To any struggling musician hoping to 'make it' in the music industry, Molly Burch is literally living the dream: In 2016, the current Austinite-by-way-of-Los-Angeles (who, at that time, was attending college in Asheville, North Carolina) sent an unsolicited demo to renowned Brooklyn independent record label Captured Tracks -- and was shocked when they actually came a-calling literally two days later.
"Yeah, I was very surprised by it," Burch told me over the phone recently about that unforgettable moment. "I had no experience and I didn't know any labels or have any connections or anything like that. I still really can't believe that happened. I feel really lucky. I was told that no one would respond to me if I was sending out cold demo submissions so it was very shocking."
Indeed, most unsolicited demos to labels are promptly discarded into the nearest trash bin but according to Burch, Captured Tracks (home to Wild Nothing, DIIV, Craft Spells and others) take a much different approach.
"I really feel like they're unique ... They really try to listen to everything sent to them and I think that's really special. Their whole motto is finding bands that are new and haven't released anything and growing their career. They're just really special people."
Those intimate, melancholy demos -- which made up Burch's 2017 debut album "Please Be Mine" -- planted her on critic best-of lists and, much like the folks at her label, made an instant fan out of pretty much anyone who heard them.
Her warm, jazz-inflected voice and reverb-drenched retro sound channels vibes ranging from Roy Orbison and Patsy Cline to Angel Olsen, Tammy Wynette and Nina Simone (Burch studied Jazz Vocal Performance at the University of North Carolina) but for her new studio album, "First Flower" [listen/buy it here], the singer-songwriter had the opportunity to flesh out her artistic vision more than she did on "Please Be Mine."
"I had a different mindset," Burch explained when asked about the "First Flower" recording sessions. "On the first record, I had only saved a certain amount of money and could only really afford, like, two days in the studio. [laughs] If I had more money, I would've definitely taken more time."
Even with Captured Tracks presumably helping out with expenses this time around, Burch decided to still keep the process fairly minimal, quick and straightforward but admitted that maybe she'll switch it up in the future.
"Maybe our next one will be way different," she said. "I just like not overthinking things [in the studio] and just seeing what comes out in the time you're there with those people ... I just can't tell if I'm just used to not having money; am I like that because I'm poor or because that's how I like to work?" [laughs]
Perhaps the most intriguing part of "First Flower" is the subject matter Burch has turned to in lieu of songs about heartache; she wrote most of "Please Be Mine" about a past break-up with the guitarist in her band, Dailey Tolliver, but the two have long since rekindled their romance. So what does she write about now?
"A lot of the [new] songs are more personal and are about my struggles with anxiety or my struggles with different types of relationships," Burch explained. "I went through a lot of changes with my band and friendships over the past couple years.
"So yeah, they're more personal, introspective songs."