Album: Bex Burch – There is only love and fear

(Bex Burch with her handmade xylophone, photo by Fabian Brennecke)

From the label International Anthem comes Bex Burch’s debut solo record, There is only love and fear. A sprawling first offering from this English artist, Burch invites us inside her world for this record, and it’s quite a treat.

Burch recorded There is only love and fear, far from Home – the artist was invited to the US by International Anthem in Summer 2022 to record, and the result was a bevvy of stunning natural sounds, prominently in the first, third, and ninth tracks, but sprinkled throughout, as well. We hear multiple instruments thanks to the many collaborators Burch tapped, but we become most familiar with her hand-made xylophone. Many tracks sound as if we’re listening to the formation of a song within its recording, giving us a deeper look inside Burch’s musical mind.

In addition to her time spent in the States, Burch has spent significant time travelling to other parts of the world. This comes across in the record sonically – the third and fourth tracks will take you to two totally different parts of the globe – but also in its feel. She hasn’t just travelled to these places and learned about new instruments and sounds; she’s learned about herself. This has resulted in a beautiful openness in Burch’s music. She’s receptive to new thoughts and ideas, never limiting herself to what she already knows or doesn’t know, but instead always looking to learn. Rarely does a debut album so clearly display who an artist is.

Though Burch’s variety of sounds flirts with a disjointed album, the use of her xylophone, improvisation, and field recordings all serve as throughlines to make it cohesive. While this sort of approach doesn’t result in a perfect record, it results in a different kind of brilliance, one already uniquely Burch.

The only thing that supersedes Burch’s musicianship is her willingness to be so vulnerable with her listeners. It will be a pleasure to hear what she does next.

Acacia Deadrick

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