“Hope“, Says Christian Burns -“if there is one word that sums up this album, it would be this one”. Now, if that sounds overly optimistic given our time, bear with it – the context will become much clearer. The story of ‘Love Songs From Suburbia’ (because there clearly is one) begins in Los Angeles in April 2020. Don’t get too comfortable there – in 48 hours it will be in eight time zones.
This album was spurred on by not one, but two important events. One was global and the second, about as personal as they come. For the first time in decades, longtime LA resident Christian suddenly and unexpectedly felt far from home. With a real feel for how the winds were blowing off the west coast, last April he took a flight back to the family north of England. The recent demise of his long-term relationship has given new impetus to the international situation. So, leaving behind the house, the studio, the car and everything that wasn’t the size of a suitcase, he returned to his native Greater Manchester.
Writing her second artist album (the long-delayed follow-up to 2013’s “Simple Modern Answers”) couldn’t have been further from the plan, simply because there wasn’t one. Without a permanent base in the county, a returning Christian took refuge under his sister’s roof. Within days, creatively – and by her own admission unexpectedly – something started to move. Setting up a makeshift studio in a vacant building in the middle of a field on his brother’s property, he started writing… and released ‘Love Songs From Suburbia’.
The emotion – it probably goes without saying – is ingrained in the album. Remarkable however, only by their total absence, are tones of gloom, pessimism or reproach. And when you consider the main drivers of ‘Love Songs’, it’s quite remarkable. In their place sit vibrations of melancholy and quiet acceptance. Less “what happened and more” what will happen, all linked in – again this word – “hope”.
While the temptation may be there, don’t watch the song titles of ‘Love Song (twelve in total) anticipating a chapter preview of Christian’s inspirations. Faced with poker, from ‘Tigers’ or ‘Honor’ at the beginning to ‘The Hands That Matter’ or ‘Everywhere’ at the back, there isn’t a title that allows you to draw conclusions. It is in the verses and choruses of the album that Christian’s meanings are found, some just below the surface, others deep. As the mind translates them, a journey takes place and the figurations of the “love songs” become clear.
Hearing Christian’s second album for the first time will likely leave the impression that his musical elements are there only as a passive actor. Feet move, ears itch, but your focus seldom turns away from the captivating to haunting songs, choruses and harmonies of Christian. A testament to their breathtaking tact, over time these elements begin to appear more and more, and with them achieving what kind of extraordinary balance ‘Love Songs’ achieves.
A wistful, happy, sun-like feel on your face – “Café del Mar with rhythms” perhaps – he innately carries his tone from the first track to the last. It’s an album that has nothing to prove apart from the art of the lyrics, the authenticity of the voice and the depth of meaning always prevail.
‘Suburban Love Songs are available to stream or purchase now (blackhole.lnk.to/lovesongs)