Beth // James
Sunday, October 9, 2022
Beth // James is an indie-Americana duo from Austin, Texas made up of award-winning singer-songwriters Mikaela and Jordan Burchill. After two dazzling EPs, and their original song, "Lion Eyes" in Spike Lee's Academy Award-winning feature film 'BlacKkKlansman', the duo is back with their debut album "Get Together", recorded and produced by James Petralli of White Denim.
Singing about the dog of their dreams, an ill-fated group tattoo, and saved voicemails of a lost loved one, Beth // James wields poignant everyday details to chronicle both the most carefree, and most challenging themes of their career. It's an album that spans genres, hopping from gaze-to-infinity Americana twang, to twinkling vintage-inflected indie pop, to hold-your-lighter-to-the-air love songs.
Mixing musical traditions is natural for the newly married duo, who first met at the University of North Texas's prestigious jazz program, and cut their teeth on jazz guitar and vocals. Both highly accomplished players, Jordan and Mikaela are deeply embedded in the Austin music scene, and have gathered a constellation of like-minded friends who contribute throughout the record. Jordan has been a collaborator of Austin psych-rockers White Denim in the past, and their shared love of jazz, great songwriting, and all things guitar proved to be a perfect fit. “We listened to so many records together throughout the recording process”says Mikaela, “and spent a ton of time just talking about life and guzzling coffee.”
With its bubbling synths and euphoric guitar licks, "Shake It Out" is the auditory equivalent of cold beers in the sun, freeways with the windows open. Meanwhile, "Boy Genius" is an ethereal folk-pop epic, seeing Beth // James stake their claim as the South Austin Fleetwood Mac. "Sean" is a rollicking, sincere ode to friendship that rides Jordan Burchill's storytelling (that tattoo story very much happened). Another highlight, "Voicemails", grapples with the death of Mikaela's father. The track is simple and delicate, offering raw honesty in a beautiful, dreamy melody that seems to say, that's the way it is, and sometimes it’s really sad.
Beth // James has managed a collection of songs that spans the range from light-hearted to deeply moving, picking and choosing from the spectrum of American music traditions with deft taste and artistry.