Paul Burch is an American singer, songwriter, producer, and recording engineer. Though he was a member of the Nashville-based alt-country band Lambchop from 1997 to 2005, multi-instrumentalist Burch has forged a solo career as an old-school country artist whose sound deliberately evokes the vintage honky tonk era in Nashville and the rockabilly of Sam Phillips' Sun Studios in Memphis. In addition to his own recordings, Burch has worked on dozens of dates with everyone from Bobby Bare and Charlie Louvin to the Waco Brothers, Laura Cantrell, and Richard Bennett. Beginning with Pan American Flash in 1996, Burch began to craft a warm, immediate sound based on live studio recording. After 2000's quintessential Blue Notes and 2003's Fool for Love, he developed a reputation as a savvy songwriter and producer. Beginning with 2006's East to West, he started working with proto rockabilly and early country rock. In 2011, he released the widely celebrated Words of Love: Songs of Buddy Holly. Burch & the WPA Ballclub issued Trovatore: The Lives of Eugene Walter in 2018. Born and raised in rural Maryland and Virginia, Paul Burch enjoyed the music scene of 1970s Washington, D.C., with his family taking him to see such big names as Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, and John Prine. An occasional member of Lambchop, the Nashville-based singer/songwriter made his solo debut in 1998 with Pan-American Flash. Wire to Wire followed later that same year, and Blue Notes was released in mid-2000. The following year, Last of My Kind, inspired by Tony Earley's novel Jim the Boy, arrived. He released the album East to West in 2006; recorded in British Grove Studios in London, as well as in Nashville, the record featured Mark Knopfler and Ralph Stanley. In 2009, Burch & the WPA Ballclub (Jim Gray, Fats Kaplin, Dennis Crouch, Jen Gunderman, and Marty Lynds) issued Still Your Man, an all-new collection of songs recorded in a converted warehouse on the outskirts of Nashville's Music Row. Released in 2011, the tribute album Words of Love: Songs of Buddy Holly was recorded live in the studio, employing a minimalist's arsenal of upright bass, drums, and guitar peppered with the occasional blast of saxophone and accordion. It was followed in 2012 by Great Chicago Fire, a collaboration with the Waco Brothers. In November 2013, Burch & the WPA Ballclub released Fevers, a selection of tunes informed by rockabilly, hard country swing, and honky tonk. The album was co-produced by the artist with multi-instrumentalist Fats Kaplin, with guest vocalist Kelly Hogan lending a hand. In 2016, Burch released Meridian Rising, "an imagined musical autobiography" of the country legend Jimmie Rodgers. He neither followed the conventions of a traditional tribute album nor the contours of a biographical outing. Free of historical trappings, Burch dreamed up musical scenarios for Rodgers that didn't necessarily adhere to written history, and tipped a hat to Rodgers' jazz and blues contemporaries. Three years later, Burch issued Light Sensitive. In addition to the erstwhile WPA Ballclub, his cast of collaborators included Robyn Hitchcock, Luther Dickinson, Amy Rigby, and Aaron Lee Tasjan. Its contents blurred boundaries between the roots genres of rockabilly, blues, balladry, and atmospheric sounds inspired by various geographic locales from the American South.
© Jason Ankeny /TiVo
© Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 6, 2011 | Glider Ltd.
A perfect storm of austerity and studio mastery, Buddy Holly's small but impressive body of work has had such a huge impact on rock & roll’s evolution that the cover of a 2011 tribute album released nearly 50 years after his death requires only a pair of horn-rimmed glasses to signify its intent. Recorded live in the studio and employing a minimalist’s arsenal of upright bass, drums, and guitar peppered with the occasional blast of saxophone and accordion, Paul Burch and the WPA Ballclub deftly handle the 13 tracks like Crickets in waiting, allowing the universal familiarity of the melodies to guide them, while maintaining the giddy electricity of the material's inception. Opening with a Bayou-kissed rendition of “Rave On,” Burch and company tear through the remaining 12 cuts with both gusto and grace, all while remaining remarkably true to the source material. Over the years, Holly's songs have become standards, and while there’s been no shortage of tributes paid to the Lubbock, Texas great, Words of Love: Songs of Buddy Holly might be the closest anyone’s come to capturing the sweetness and simple, primal magic of the originals. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
Country - Released April 24, 2001 | Glider Ltd.
Last of My Kind may be the first ever soundtrack to a book. Nashville musician Paul Burch wrote the gritty folk tunes on the album as an accompaniment to his friend Tony Earley's Depression-era coming-of-age novel, Jim the Boy. Like Earley's universal Mark Twain-esque story, Burch's songs come right from Americans' subconscious, from the collective myth of Americana crystallized in Huck Finn, Tom Joad, and Jay Gatsby. With a similar flair to the Coen brothers' barn-raising O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack, Last of My Kind fits well with the raspy narratives, creepy ballads, and back-porch stomps of Harry Smith's brilliant Anthology of American Folk Music. Burch's songs have their own stories to tell, whether he's singing of the game of life in a pure, clear voice on "Up on the Mountain" ("Where the honeysuckle grows/The world below laid out plain for me to see like a board of Monopoly") or recounting the story of a murderous farmer in the spooky shuffle "Harvey Hartsell's Farm." Burch's brilliance lies in the fact that he has created a period album pulled out of the past but imbued with a contemporary relevance and resonance that make it just as poignant as a novel of the same sort. As he sings in the title track, "Today I came to realize that I am the last of my kind." © Charles Spano /TiVo
Country - Released October 21, 2003 | Glider Ltd.
Paul Burch makes a good impression on Fool for Love. There's a strange ambience to "Lovesick Blues Boy" -- the opener -- that creates a strong undercurrent. The bass-heavy production is simple but insistent, providing a dark underpinning for Burch's rich vocals. "Bad Girl She Used to Be" sounds like a '50s tune channeled through the Velvet Underground and sweetened by a touch of romanticism. One quickly gains the belief that Burch knows where he's heading on Fool for Love and what he wants to achieve. The arrangements, for instance, don't seem a lot different than those used by the typical singer/songwriter. But odd touches like Fats Kaplin's steel guitar on "Deserted Love" and fiddle on "If You're Gonna Love Me" add another affecting layer to the tapestry. There's also the heavy use of a tremolo guitar, and the way cuts like "Call My Name" are mixed, that reminds one in places of Gordon Downie's Coke Machine Glow. Like Downie, Burch's writing proves less self-absorbed than the average songsmith. He also seems smarter and more distinct than the usual alternative country act on the make, even though his style, and association with Bloodshot, will categorize him as such. Fool for Love lives up to the promises of Burch's earlier work, and will be appreciated by anyone who enjoys stylish music rendered with a sonic blast. © Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. /TiVo
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