Molly Malone’s Los Angeles, CA
Stacy Burk, vocals; Tom Walsh, drums; Ed Roth, keyboard; Philippe Willems, guitar; Holger Fath, guitar; Mick Mahan, bass; Carlos Vargas, guitars; Jet Johnson, backup vocals.
Material: Armed with powerful vocals and a smooth Southern style, Stacy Burk brings an earnest new voice to the country music scene. At a time when the genre feels saturated by pop stars in cowboy hats, Burk’s no frills approach is a breath of fresh air. His repertoire feels somewhat ballad heavy, and could use a few more upbeat songs. Still, fans of George Strait and Keith Urban will undoubtedly gravitate toward this up-and-comer.
Musicianship: Burk sings in a grizzled baritone, with his Texan accent only occasionally coming to the forefront. His delivery is direct and pure, everything you’d expect from a man who was raised on a ranch. He’s supported by an impressive backing band of music industry veterans. Tom Walsh (drums) and Mick Mahan (bass) make up a strong rhythm section, artfully crafting the solid foundations on which each track is built. A trio of guitar players, Philippe Willems, Holger Fath and Carlos Vargas bring a dizzying array of sound to the songs. Their style could easily fit in an arena rock show, but here it cleverly buoys Burk’s vocals without overwhelming the singer’s style. On keys, J.T. Thomas provides subtle nuances that delicately enhance each tune. Last but not least, Jet Johnson’s stirring backup vocals strike a perfect sonic balance with Burk’s voice. It’s a large band with many moving pieces, yet each person plays their role so perfectly that one can’t help but walk away impressed.
Performance: Burk launched into his set with “Till Your Boots Are Dirty,” a foot stomping tune that calls out those who dare fake their country side. Perhaps the biggest highlight of the set was Burk’s second to last song, “John Alexander.” This amusing first-person story about a teenager and his adventures with a fake ID proved instantly catchy, while also showcasing a witty side to Burk’s lyric writing. Throughout the entire set, the band was incredibly tight. Each guitar solo soared and every harmony was clean. The only disappointment came from the frontman’s body language. He appeared stiff and robotic, seemingly not enjoying his moment in the spotlight. While the reason may be attributed to his health (he mentioned early in the show that he was fighting a cold), it hindered the performance.
Summary: Blessed with songs that resonate long after first listen, Stacy Burk seems poised to rise up the country ranks. Provided he can take his stage presence to the next level, there will be no stopping this bourgeoning country star.
– Corey Irwin