There is something terribly wrong with calling Meaghan Burke a songwriter. Like vodka, the more you question the effects, the blurrier they become. Meaghan Burke is not an artist whose musically over-educated past is a primer for making marketable pop music. Her sound embraces the odd nuances contained in love affairs with free improvisation, lingering music school sadism, a career geographically split between New York and the Vienna intelligentsia.
Meaghan sings jazzy, approachable melodies over cello accompaniments that channel every possible incarnation of Western music all at once. It's impossibly beautiful but in no way forgiving. Her fingers race in preparation of cadenzas and the orchestration seems totally unrelated to what pours out of her mouth. And then even in moments where one might be so inclined to say, finally: "Yes, OK! She is a songwriter! This part has been pretty for almost a minute..." But then, when you listen closely to what she's actually singing about, with this voice of hers like an oven, crackling with past lives on newspaper, burning, and, well, it's not ok. Because what she's created is too personal, too direct and unusual to claim she's a songwriter - which sounds categorically absurd but it's true – it's like she's a songwriter, imploded. She'll sing about anything; bed bugs, the Gowanus, even boyfriends – but look, seriously, it just doesn't sound right. She squeals and bleeps intermittently like suddenly we're in a car. Her timing is too dark and immense and she can't play at this coffeehouse... And then she'll do this thing where she starts to sing in German. - You can see/hear Meaghan next at Sidewalk Cafe on August 12th @ 9pm. - Valerie Kuehne