BURR SETTLES – Live Indy Folk
(2006 download only)
Burr Settles played his last Madison show of the year in November, and his local fans likely won’t get another chance to see him live until he returns next summer from a sabbatical of sorts in Cambridge, England. In the meantime he’s left us a very nice present, a set he played at the Musical Family Tree Festival in Indianapolis at the end of October, available as a free download through his website. He even includes full album artwork for those of us who must have everything in a proper case. Several levels above the tape-recorder-in-the-pocket sound, it falls short of professional live recordings, with crowd noise and other ephemera audible throughout. Rather than detracting from the record, however, it adds a you-are-there vibe to his twenty-five minute set which includes tracks from his debut Sketches as well as his contributions to the last two February Album Writing Month (FAWM) compilations.
Rather than edit out the between-song banter, every dedication (“Your Derivative” goes out to a math teacher, and “Kentucky Blue” to an old friend he had just seen at a class reunion) and request (“Can I get more vocals in the monitor?”) is intact. The former song draws chuckles from the nerdier, er, more intelligent, members of the crowd who get the mathematical in-jokes of its extended metaphor. “That’s a true story,” he claims, following the ode to drinking in your pajamas entitled “Bourbon For Breakfast,” one of the tunes he penned during this year’s burst of creativity that was FAWM. Ringing equally true is the terrific “Slingshot,” in which the narrator is blackmailed by his sister into doing her chores after she witnesses an errant shot. Surprisingly, despite its autobiographical feel, it’s complete fiction.
The yearly FAWM compilation CD 14 Songs in 28 Days collects the best efforts from its many participants and Settles’ own contributions have been winners. The off-beat love song “Dust Goggles” he wrote for “chicks with power tools” while the darker “Jill of All Trades” may be his strongest effort yet. As founder and curator of the project, which has seen an impressive increase in participation every year, he’s had a chance to make a few friends in the U.K. who are going to help him book some shows during his time on the other side of the Atlantic. For those of us stuck stateside, at least we have Live Indy Folk to keep us company until he returns.