Tré Burt

REVIEW: Tré Burt “Traffic Fiction”


Tré Burt – Traffic Fiction

Grief can serve as a reason for reflection and a spur for reinvention. After the death of his grandfather, singer-songwriter Tré Burt decided to honor his memory, as well as times shared with his father, by deviating from his more folky style and head back toward his first love – classic soul. Burt’s new album, Traffic Fiction, still trades in Burt’s favorite topics – doomed relationships, financial oppression and social apathy – while hewing closer to the old-school sounds he fell in love with while listening to music with his music-loving role models.

Knowing that his grandfather was slowly succumbing to dementia, Burt took to recording conversations with him, and a snippet of one of those talks opens Traffic Fiction, which includes a family discussion of Stevie Wonder while teeing up the younger Burt’s new record. The album itself launches with the title track, an old-school, steel-tinged look at speeding past the joy-sucking forces in life – “I’m a blur in the world and in every town/Yeah, there’s nothing as depressing as slowing me down.” That fierce, eff-it-all attitude carries into “Kids in tha Yard,” an organ-spiced jam about maintaining independence in the face of all that contradicts that freedom – “I do what I want/When I’m paying the rent/I’ll never be free/But I can pretend.”

Classic soul wouldn’t be what it is without a history of heartbreakers, and Burt’s got his contributions to the canon. “Piece of Me” feels lifted straight out of the 50s, with plenty of organ, Burt’s layered vocals and a desperate plea for love or something like it – “I know you like me best when I’m blue” – plus one of my favorite lines so far this year – “I always make a mess when I’m honest/Well good thing I make it after you.” Later on, “Santiago” is a bouncy, 80’s influenced look back at an ended-too-soon tryst – “I got the night to think about you/Every morning for some more bad news/It ain’t easy shakin’ you off of me baby.” “All Things Right,” though, brings Burt back to his lyrical, socially conscious roots (as well as familial roots in Promised Land, South Carolina). In a song characterized by an island-ish bounce and a roaming clarinet line from Rory Hoffman, Burt uses the ominous character of the “laughing man” to characterize looming authority and the apathy that it creates – “Spill out the whine from the chalice cup/Into the rusted drain/Now it’s bleeding down t the river bank/It’s hard to tell where the lie began.” It’s old-school soul crossed with updated awareness that characterizes Burt’s new approach, and this gives Burt a fresh way to tell these important stories.

Song I Can’t Wait to Hear Live: – “Told Ya Then” – uptempo, and with Burt playing a fantastic guitar line, but still coming from the past of a man who’s seen some sh!t – “I been to some places where my only concern is the width of the wall.”

Traffic Fiction was produced by Andrija Tokic. Musicians on the album include Tré Burt (vocals, guitar), Nick Bockrath (electric guitar, steel guitar, piano), Jack Lawrence (bass), Meg Coleman (drums), Joanne Schornikow (keys), Peter Keys (keys) Rory Hoffman (clarinet), Charlie Garmendia (drums), Dennis Crouch (upright bass), Ben Classon (trumpet), Jeff Taylor (piano), and Kyshona, Maureen Murphy, Nickie Conley, Nicole Atkins, Alexis Saski, and Laura Mayo (background vocals)

Go here to order Traffic Fiction (out October 6):

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