You, Yeah, You, Listen To Tré Burt's New Album With The Intention It Deserves
Tré Burt played an exclusive in-store show at Vinyl Cup in Beaverdale on Tuesday that included his 2020 single “Under The Devil’s Knee" and songs from his forthcoming record "You, Yeah, You."
Sunlight beamed through the bay windows at Vinyl Cup Records as Tré Burt fumbled with his finger picks and peered out at his audience from under his hat. It's clear he is a tender heart with a lot to say. At the age of 29, he's wise beyond his years, which you can hear on his new album “You, Yeah, You.” (Oh Boy Records, 2021)
Burt’s vibe has been compared to that of Bob Dylan and the late John Prine. As he played to a group of around 70 masked people for more than an hour taking listeners on a tour of his first album, “Caught It From The Rye” and the forthcoming "You, Yeah, You," it was understandable why.
“When I write a song, I’m trying to communicate with the mothership, like a field reporter, so to speak. And it only helps your case if you’re as honest as possible. I think that’s what people see with John [Prine]. It’s not the sound. It’s the honesty,” Burt said about his songwriting.
Prine and Dylan, however, aren't his primary influences.
"When I do draw from tradition in my songs, it's from the porches of Piedmont 100 plus years ago," he said.
He'd rather be compared to Mississippi John Hurt, who taught himself to play guitar at the age of nine and worked as a sharecropper for most of his life, or Abner Jay, who considered himself to be the "last working Southern Black minstrel" and was a pioneer in of the independent music industry. He also nodded to Ted Hawkins, who performed as a busker at Venice Beach when he lived stateside, despite being adored overseas, and Elizabeth Cotten, who was playing a right handed guitar upside down long before Jimi Hendrix.
"Those folks just give me an indescribable sense of home that I haven't found otherwise," Burt said. "Impossible to explain. It's just right."
You can hear Burt's music in rotation during Studio One Tracks, and while the new record isn't out until August 27, you can get a copy now through an exclusive release Vinyl Cup partnered on with Oh Boy Records.
Oh Boy Records
Oh Boy Records is the independent record label Prine founded. You can actually hear a sample of Prine's voice on the first song, "You, Yeah, You." It's a recording of Prine responding with an approving "yeah" from the first time Burt performed the track for him.
Burt got connected with Prine and Oh Boy Records after someone from the company heard his music on Spotify. "Caught It From The Rye" was re-released in 2020 after the company reached out to him on Instagram.
“It [the Instagram message] went to my other inbox, and I didn’t know about the difference," Burt laughed. "So when I finally figured it out and pressed on it, the message was four weeks old, and I felt awful. But I was really excited too."
Before the show, Burt joked about his favorite pandemic binge watches, and he told us one thing that has helped him find balance lately is writing four haikus a day. During his set, he spoke of a trip to Yosemite to write songs and clear his head. He asked the audience at one point to settle because the song next was “a very personal one," after opening with a tune that “made him feel like a kid.”
With a beer and the number one press of his new record at his side, he was having fun, and so was the audience.
"I Wish I Didn't Have To Write It"
Except for one moment midway through his set. When he finished playing "Under the Devil's Knee," someone told him it was a "great" song. "Under the Devil's Knee" was inspired by the murder of George Floyd and other Black Americans at the hands of police who are supposed to serve and protect them. In the moment, the praise felt tone deaf and cruel. Was that person listening to the lyrics, or just listening to the melody of the song?
Burt is not our generation's Dylan or Prine. If we're going to dig into his music, it's important to really listen. He's a Black folk artist who's been touring America. Instead of comparing him, let's think about his music for what it is: uniquely his. He's writing from a different perspective than Dylan and Prine did, and he's living in a very different time.
In the green room before his set, Burt talked briefly about the song which was released in 2020 as a single.
“You always get in this like dreamlike, sleepwalking state when you’re writing songs, so I don’t really remember the process too much. I remember playing a D chord and then seeing a song kind of scroll out. I was a little reluctant and hesitant to write it. It wasn’t about me,” he said about the song. "It's a weird song to take credit for."
“You know, I wish I didn’t have to write it,” he lamented when he finished playing it.
When you play Burt’s new record or hear him on Studio One Tracks, listen with intentionality and thoughtfulness. Songs like his single "Under The Devil's Knee," and "By The Jasmine" on "You, Yeah, You" are important. They are meaningful, poetic and deeply tragic. Burt's music expresses an ache for harmony, justice and solidarity. "You, Yeah, You" tells a story about the Sweet Misery and grief that defines our time.