– Fred Mills for Harp Magazine
Of her musical objectives, indie songstress Clare Burson explains, “I’ve always leaned towards poetic simplicity and subtlety in my music—wanting to express as much as I can with the fewest possible words and musical flourishes.” This desire for melodic minimalism is evident in her critically acclaimed releases, THE IN-BETWEEN, IDAHO, and THIEVES, each of which is marked by evocative imagery, subtle metaphor, and effortless harmonies.
Burson builds upon this aesthetic with SILVER AND ASH, her most ambitious project yet. Released by Rounder Records on September 14, 2010, and featured in the New York Times and on NPR, SILVER AND ASH is a concept album that imagines Burson’s maternal grandmother’s life in Germany, from her birth in 1919 to her escape in 1938. For this project, Burson visited her own childhood home in Memphis, where she conducted interviews with both grandmothers, and ventured to the childhood homes of her ancestors in Germany, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, and the Ukraine.
The result of Burson’s travel, research, and ancestral archeology is a stunning album of 10 original songs that inhabit and give life to her grandmother’s story as well as Clare’s own struggles with rupture, silence, guilt, empathy, and continuity. The album was produced by Grammy nominated Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket, R.E.M.), and with the help of her band, Mark Spencer on guitar (Son Volt, Laura Cantrell), Tony Leone on drums (Ollabelle, Levon Helm), and Andy Cotton on bass, Burson’s lush string arrangements and rich vocals – at times wistful, at times full of desperation, but at all times direct – come together to fill the 10 songs on SILVER AND ASH with nostalgia and longing.
A classically trained violinist, and later, conversant in Bluegrass, Celtic and Klezmer fiddle tunes, Burson began playing guitar while studying history at Brown University. After college and a year in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar, Burson spent two years in Boston before returning to Tennessee. Currently, Clare lives in Brooklyn, NY.