The veteran guitarist and songwriter John Burdick is known in the mid-Hudson Valley as the leader of long-running stumble pop quintet, The Sweet Clementines, as well as for his work as an always tasteful sideman for Old 97’s front man Rhett Miller and his All-Stars, indie singer-songwriter Laura Stevenson and others. The name may also be familiar to music-lovers in NYS from his years as a music critic for outlets like Almanac Weekly (now Hudson Valley One) and Chronogram.
Birds and Birds is the name of Burdick’s latest, a four-track EP which is actually the first title released under his own name. It’s a maddening slim selection (at a little over 14-minutes, I wish there was more) of lush down-tempo art pop, the ideal chill-out listening experience for these troubled COVID times.
With the intro to “Unison Waltz,” we can hear that Burdick has spent a good deal of time listening to the electric guitar filagree of Richard Thompson. Like all the songs here, there’s a delight swirl of textures stitched by the electric and acoustic guitars, keys and background voices. Ten bonus points for working the word “gestalt” into the lyrics without having the tune grind to a halt! The slacker-rock socio-economic critique “Complikate” came out of SubFamily Records’ casual quarantine experiment Seed Project (reviewed here). But it was re-mixed for this collection by the Grammy-winning producer Danny Blume. This features more distinctive organ vibes and some melodic McCartneyisms on the bass.
The closer, “Birds of Heaven,” is a true standout, a perfect endpiece that reminds me a bit of John Cale’s placement of “Antarctica Starts Here” on his masterwork. Paris 1919. It dawns as the most minimal and poetic offering in the collection, before the thump kicks in two minutes in. Burdick’s ambient guitars, lush keys from Sarah Perrotta, the potent percussion and sound design by this track’s co-producer C.I.T.E and Dean Brown’s trombone solo on the make this another fine example of this artist’s eclectic art pop sensibilities.
Key Tracks: Birds of Heaven, Complikate