Folk, Americana; Organic Records — STREAM / BUY single
Every strain of American folk music reflects the times in which it is made, and turbulent times have always inspired powerful songs from all of their best storytellers, especially in those moments that cry for comment. Now, with “Echoes” — a new song that arrives on the eve of our national independence commemoration — Aaron Burdett offers an unsparingly honest portrayal of an artist examining both his own and the country’s history.
“I started writing the song that became ‘Echoes’ in early 2019,” Burdett says, “while observing a heightening of racial tensions in the US, and what seemed like a never ending list of domestic terrorism events, shootings, and general hostility directed at American citizens simply because of the color of their skin. I wasn’t born until the mid 1970s, but this all felt like and sounded like so much of what I had heard about the civil rights movement and the general social unrest of the 1960s. And I had also been learning about and coming to terms with my own racism. Not the kind that calls names and belittles others, but the more subtle kind a person picks up involuntarily when they live in an almost totally white small town in the south. It’s the kind of racism that’s born of true ignorance, as I have never had to think about it at any depth before. And that itself is the strongest evidence: I’ve never even had to think about it. To me, that’s the definition of white privilege in this country.”
“We recorded this song during the summer of 2019, along with a few other full band songs. Right after those sessions we decided to pursue our more acoustic presentation with the trio for our next album and touring season. So all those band songs were shelved, thinking perhaps we could use them later for something. And then the raging dumpster fire that is 2020 was ignited. I thought about this song again, and began revising some of the lyrics. Kim France, who plays bass with me, called me and encouraged me to release it now, no matter what. I contacted Organic Records and they had a meeting the very next morning about it; I went in that afternoon and finished the vocal parts, and we decided to fast track it and release the song.”
Backing a soulful vocal performance with subtle touches of electric and acoustic guitars, drums, upright bass and pedal steel, “Echoes” speaks directly to Burdett’s own history, how it has shaped him both personally and as a member of an American majority, taking for granted freedoms that too many others have been denied.
“This is a song about me,” he continues. “It’s not about you unless you want it to be. It’s about my observations of the world outside, sure. But the heart of this song is in the coming to terms with my own unconscious bias, my own unknown prejudice, and the realization that I’m as much a part of the systemic racism in this country as anyone. I’m a fish swimming in the water. Now I smell something rotten in that water, though, and something in myself. I can’t change the water. But I can change myself. I can be honest with myself like I haven’t been before. And as an artist and songwriter, I can be honest with my words and my song and hope that that’s okay with the listener. It’s what artists do. We tell the truth, even when we’re telling on ourselves. It’s scary and it’s embarrassing and humbling. I don’t have any answers, only more questions. But I’ve begun the process for myself.”