Recommended Tracks: “Shake It Out”, “My Problem”, “Voicemails”
Artists You May Like: The Loyal Seas, Delta Rae, Tow’rs
Award-winning singer-songwriters Mikaela and Jordan Burchill have had quite the journey so far as indie-Americana duo Beth // James. After first meeting in the University of North Texas’s jazz program, Jordan and Mikaela found that their passion for songwriting, jazz, and the overall music scene in Austin was too strong to ignore. Combining their talents, they went on to release two EPs as Beth // James, with Lion Eyes in 2017 and Falling in 2019; the title track from the Lion Eyes EP was even featured in the movie BlacKkKlansman in 2018. Earlier this year, Beth // James began releasing singles from their full-length debut, Get Together, touching on small facets of everyday life. With the rest of the album, the duo continue to share their observations on life, loss, and love, creating their most emotionally and musically diverse project to date.
Throughout the album, Beth // James incorporate daily musings on people and places in their lives. On “Boy Genius,” for instance, Mikaela confronts a supposed “know-it-all” in a bar, asking him, “Have you read all the books? / Every single one? / Were you always boy genius?” It is a classic venting song, with Mikaela’s folksy vocals really tearing into this type of person. On the other hand, Jordan tells us the story of a fun and long friendship on “Sean.” The warm track is a trip down memory lane, as Jordan reflects on the crazy memories he has made with Sean and claims, “It’s always good to get together, together with an old friend.”
As light and entertaining as the album is, however, there are moments when Beth // James hit us with unfortunate news. On “Happy Birthday,” Mikaela celebrates a birthday for someone no longer around. Over gentle percussion, she sings, “It should be your day / But, you’re not here to celebrate” and “Happy Birthday / I miss you in the worst way,” bringing out the dichotomy of the situation. The mourning continues on “Voicemails,” as Mikaela pays tribute to her late father. Claiming that this was the most honest song she’s written and the hardest to sing, Mikaela gets into the pain she feels when listening to her dad’s “old voicemails” or when she notices that he’s “not walking to the corner” or spending time in his usual chair anymore.
When it seems like love might be the answer, we hear a couple of songs that describe how tricky it is to ascertain. Giving us a melancholy love song in the form of “My Problem,” Mikaela and Jordan take turns convincing themselves that they are doing something wrong. Accompanied by light guitar and percussion, they sing, “My love, I’m so insecure / And I don’t feel like I deserve love,” before admitting, “My problem is I need you more and more.” These wavering feelings are present again on “Lonely Boy, Lonely Girl,” as both secretly wonder when or if to make the first move. For instance, Jordan sings, “Walking you home to your door / Wishing that you wanted more,” while Mikaela expresses, “I know you hold your heart close / And I don’t want to impose.” As they continue to describe how much they want the other, we start to feel distraught, especially when they conclude that there is probably no interest on either side.
In the end, Beth // James have given us a broad collection of genres and themes on Get Together. Whether we experience the uplifting, carefree spirit of songs like “Shake It Out” or the subdued nature of tracks like “The Sun,” the duo perpetuate their credibility as established musicians. Additionally, the themes they take on round out their skills as songwriters, as they exquisitely expand on personal stories and experiences. Overall, Get Together reflects the characteristics of meeting up with new and old friends, and with Beth // James at the center, we look forward to seeing what the next get-together entails.
You can listen to Get Together on platforms like Apple Music and Spotify.