Album Review: Paul Burch — Fevers

Juli Thanki | November 18th, 2013

paulburchfeversAfter last year’s stellar collaboration with The Waco Brothers, The Great Chicago Fire, singer-songwriter Paul Burch returns with Fevers, his debut on fledgling label Plowboy Records and his first solo release since 2011’s Buddy Holly tribute, Words of Love.

Co-produced with multi-instrumentalist Fats Kaplin one of the original members of Burch’s WPA Ballclub band, Fevers crackles with the spontaneous energy of a live show. It’s polished (how couldn’t it be, with musicians like Kaplin, Chris Scruggs, and Dennis Crouch) but not perfect: on the barn-burning rockabilly song “Couldn’t Get a Witness,” we hear someone in the studio howling, then what sounds like Burch stifling a laugh on the outro.

Fevers showcases Burch’s versatility as a songwriter and performer more than any of his releases to date, as he effortlessly goes from Cajun country on “Sac Au Lait” to the Spanish-tinged “Sagrada,” while his moody take on traditional fiddle tune “Cluck Ol’ Hen,” which features some fine mandolin picking — in addition to thumping percussion that infuses the song with an ominous tone — serves as a quick trip through Appalachia. “Give it Away” captures the sound of early rock ‘n’ roll; it’s nearly impossible to hear it and not boogie along. His finest moment comes with the honky tonk heartbreaker “Straight Tears, No Chaser,” a slice of Bakersfield heaven that sounds as though it could be a lost Buck Owens tune – Burch’s inflections make him sound remarkably like a young Owens as he sings the chorus: “Straight tears, no chaser / When it’s lonesome time / Top it off with memories / Proof 99 / And if I can’t make this old heart mend, I’m gonna cry, cry again / Straight tears, no chaser / Let the heartache begin.”

But Owens isn’t the only country singer Burch channels. He serves up a fantastic, slow-burning version of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s 1951 single “Ocean of Tears,” with duet partner Kelly Hogan — who’s at her torchiest here — filling the role of Kay Starr, and album closer “I’m Going to Memphis” could make Johnny Cash tap his toes.

In a solid year for country music releases, Burch raises the bar a notch higher. Deciding on the “Best of 2013″ just got a bit more difficult.

4 Stars

Preview or purchase Fevers

  1. Janice Brooks
    November 18, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Sounds like I missed a good gig Saturday night.
    Props to anyone who covers lesser known Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Tagged In This Article

// // // // // // // //

Current Discussion

  • luckyoldsun: Something tells me I won't be able to buy Honey Pils on tap in "I Love This Bar"--but they'll have …
  • Cheryl: Hokies football!
  • Chad: My favorite part of autumn is chilly nights.
  • luckyoldsun: Plowboy Records put out a great release from Bobby Bare last year--"Darker Than Light." It was as good as Johnny …
  • bruce: Jim Ed Brown can still sing, and better than some modern-day tune throwers. CraigR - Can't disagree with any of your …
  • Paul W Dennis: They are an interesting group. This song sounds more jazzy (Andrews Sisters, Puppini Sisiter, Ingrid Lucia) but for a folkier …
  • Barry Mazor: What the "Americana" term brings to mind, by this point, is a matter of time and marketing. Like all …
  • Paul W Dennis: I loved the Jerry Douglas interview and love the ideas behind his two concept albums Unfortunately I never had the opportunity …
  • luckyoldsun: Barry, That's a good point, as far as country itself being a word that refers to a lot more than a …
  • Six String Richie: Also, in regards to that article, Aldean's #2 complaint was "Nashville Copycats" and he gripes that people are copping Luke …

Recently Reviewed Albums

  • paulthorntooblessed
  • duhksbeyondtheblue
  • kelleymickwee
  • sandrarhodes
  • candi staton
  • sturgillsimpsonmetamodern
  • raypricebeautyis
  • rodneycrowelltarpapersky