Clare Burson

Thieves

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Tennessee native Clare Burson already had a slew of accolades going in to this 2007 album, and Thieves only reinforces those accolades. Springing to life as a recording artist in seeming full bloom in 2003, Burson saw her self-released debut, In-Between, crop up on best-of lists everywhere and earn a nod as one of the top D.I.Y. recordings of the year by Performing Songwriter Magazine. (Acclaimed Irish singer Maura O'Connell also recorded a Burson song in 2004.) Thieves continues in the vein of its predecessor, the sophomore release Idaho, wielding a pulsing landscape of alternative Americana charged with Burson's top-notch songwriting and earthy, unfussy vocal tones. This is moodiness and introspection pitched against sheer beauty, and highlights include the loping, downtrodden beauty of "Love Is Snow," which propels a sad sort of levity above a plodding groove then erupts in a wash of sound and emotion. Elsewhere "1000 Miles" offers up Americana guitar grit and Burson's tumbling and ruminatively pretty tones. Burson also manages at times to produce a sort of partially unwound, vaguely deconstructed universe in which songs threaten to careen outside of traditional structure, yet hold together. One can sense this in the quiet "Edge of Town" "which comes at the listener on the odd angles of Burson's vocal delivery before resolving itself into prettiness. This is also evident on the haunting "Boat of Leaves." Like Kathleen Edwards, Josh Rouse, and Matthew Ryan before her Burson seems to have taken the lessons of predecessors like Lucinda Williams and processed them through "alt" and "indie" sensibilities. But this is not to explain away the fact that Thieves is a masterful and mood-washed album that showcases a unique talent.

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