Molly Burch Live @ Mohawk
On a balmy summer's eve on September 18th, 2021, Molly Burch took the stage at outdoor Mohawk. With a Shure sm58 clutched tightly to her face, Molly crooned and soothed my soul to ecstasy.
Performing her new album "Romantic Images" almost in its entirety, Molly solidified her transformation to a form both retro and futuristic.
Vulnerability is not just a classic sound. It is THE sound that we all most clearly identify with. Or perhaps, that's where the disarming starts. Because paradoxically, what begins vulnerably identifies with and manifests to authenticity. It's a quality that genuinely unites people, in this case, by transmitting feeling into sound.
When Molly uttered her first note, the moment it hit me something in my soul went, "AHHHH! I LOVE live music!" And then I fought back tears that emerged (only for a minute, like a big boy).
But Molly didn't stop there. There's a certain expectation of alpha dominance that we sometimes place on musical performers. They are shaman, uniting the crowd in a mysterious dance, and the majority of performers seem to meet that challenge with some form of ego/separateness.
Not Molly. Her crooning brought to mind Tony Bennet, and the way his eyes would look soft and nostalgic, like he was in another place that he communicated from. Molly sidestepped ego and separateness all night, inviting us to look within and be disarmed, and for a crowd weary from quarantine, it was freedom at last.
Something happened to me that literally took me back through all the years, seeing the Beach Boys after a Texas Ranger's game at Arlington Stadium. They drove out on the field in convertibles, throwing Hawaiian leis into the crowd. They sang all night. Molly's vulnerability and servant's heart deconstructed the time in between these events, making me feel like I did as a young boy.
A kind of mythology surrounds our most heartfelt musical experiences. We suddenly receive a spiritual form of clarity whose indelible impression lasts beyond our proximity to the experience, or even our current ability to identify that clarity. But with the innocence of a child, we trust it as real.
Learning to trust oneself is the doorway to maturity.
While my head was spinning with now broken constructs and barriers, the music played on....
The arrangements were spot on, with retro-futuristic 60's pop music a la Stereolab, punctuated by Molly's staccato-gloss runs and lyric-less vocal riffs. Which, in this writer's opinion, often make for the best lyrics.
Molly's boyfriend and producer, Dailey Toliver, looking very Paul Simon in a baseball cap, was all elbows and angles as his posture and technique transcended stage presence and style.
'The sound is telling us something," I mused out loud.
One thing I realized post COVID, is that live music is often a higher form than what we can get at home. For one thing, there is incredible separation in the sounds of the instruments. These players can shred their axes and the subtractive nature of studio work is no longer a constraint.
"We can finally be ourselves!" they seem to say, and the effect is contagious. Me, with my broken walls, finally able to see my life in a new way. Molly's vulnerability was teaching me how to live. Her band were not clamoring for attention. They invited us to look inward. They share the secrets of introspective music.
Despite the shoe-gaze approach, I began to see my entire world in a new way. I will always be grateful to Molly and her band for that.
And when a true master is vulnerably leading, you no longer compare them to anyone. The duality of our nature, which is perhaps my greatest enemy, finally falls away. The mind, which loves constructs such as right and wrong, takes a back seat to the soul, spirit, and heart, all of which are creative rather than subtractive. I confront that which is warlike in my nature: duality that makes winners and losers, in groups and out groups, success and failure. These labels of the mind all exist in a figurative non-reality (often as a argument against reality).
"It's only worth trying to do something if you can win." This scarcity mindset, born of the amygdala, was shattered by Molly as she took us on her tuneful breath, and let us ride the "in betweens" of her compositions. All that is left for this writer is thankfulness. Like water, she poured right through me, and made me clean. Thank you Molly.