Aurora Birch has been a “sometimes collaborator” throughout the past year here at Juliet. She played an important role in our five day show, These Wild Apples, and spent some time caroling around here for the holidays. We hosted an album release party for Brightness on Dec 10, 2017.
All of us breathe. We do it without thinking, and if we’re lucky, we’ll do it naturally until the moment we stop. Our breath oxygenates our blood, as it circulates and pumps through the rivers and tributaries of our bodies, stopping momentarily each time around to flood the lake of our brains, lighting up everything we are to be.
When Aurora Birch breathes, presumably all of this happens just the same way it does for you, and for me. But at the same time, that breath seems to flow into this young performer from some very old place outside of the oxygen rich atmosphere that fuels my own body and flows back out of her like the gentle but persistent heat of a barbecue pit, turning the most challenging bits into something to be repeatedly enjoyed; coveted, longed for in constant earnest. Or as Aurora sings in the opening seconds of her new album in what could pass as a radio hit if you want it to, or double as a lament for the passage of time if you need it to, “we were unaware of corporal pain/ of human time/ but without regret/ we became the breath of one young girl” (Atomic Love).
In her debut release, Brightness, Aurora Birch invites us to not just breathe her own breath along with her, but to see her twenty something years of personal history through her own burning eyes, and hear the sound of her own universe crashing through the thunder clouds hanging over us all. Thunder clouds that look and feel the way we know them, but through her expert arrangement are reinvented as the sound of angels praising god’s creation when they erupt. The flash and fire is there, but as she breathes it all in, doubtlessly feeling it burn from head to toe and beyond, she offers us instead the the pure pleasure of intoxicating euphoria with each exhale, “and I remembered I could die of you if I tried/ my luck/ I remembered I could die” (The Only Rule).
As we trip and stumble over Aurora’s words, “if I’m the first to find my grave/ I’ll be humming our refrain to you/ in no notes composed, nor in my finest prose/ could I chronicle the garden…” (Tom’s Song), we float back up through the clouds “I’d like to think I’m kinder than I was when I was small/ that my hands, which found the world, did good/ and right when they were called” (Little Shoes), on the undulations of her voice, which itself is uplifted through the ebbing string arrangements and deep percussion devoid of distracting edges that accompany this fated troubadour in her reminiscing and reinvention.
Lest you get the impression that Aurora needs your sympathy, she is quick to remind us that she is no passive actor in this world, “what kind of woman am I/ to leave before you wake up and never/ say goodbye?/ to splinter from a brightness and burn you in the eye?” (Woman).
The most dangerous tide is the one that you can’t feel as it pulls you out to sea. Aurora Birch is this tide. An elemental sound that flows as stoically as it does cosmically; from some frightening and cavernous place outside of natural wakefulness. This tide will unrelentingly pull you out to sea, and then turn you inside out, and leave you unsure if you are floating to heaven in salvation or already drowned in a cold and salty sea. Either way, you will enjoy every minute of everything she has to share. Just remember, “keep the whiskey steady, keep it flowing like the Rhone/ I’ll be drowning out the questions that are/ burning in my throat” (Semantics).
I like whiskey. I live rivers. If drowning is anything like what Aurora Birch has done to us with Brightness, then I promise you, I like drowning too.