Listening to Austin-based singer-songwriter Molly Burch, you feel like you could be in a European nightclub in the 1930s or a Texas bar in the 1950s, or a retro-lounge in the last couple decades; there’s Buddy Holly in the way her vowels take joyfully wide-open anticipatory leaps, and some Marlene Dietrich in the way she delivers her lines with a drolly playful husky imperiousness. Burch is a trained jazz vocalist, but the music on her fine new LP First Flower elides styles, and even centuries, blurring classic country, torch-y ballads and Latin-tinged rhythms into a style that might feel Lynchian if her songs weren’t so personable and warm.
“Candy,” which opens the album, would seem to be about romantic fears. According to her, it’s about talking over creative anxieties during a restorative phone call with her dad. “Why do i think on my feet? / It’s hard to stand now,” she sings over a gently sashaying beat and soft stripes of surfy guitar. But the song builds with confidence, its prettiness and her fluttering high notes their own kind of advertisement for a talent that’s far too good to hold back with self-doubt.