Reese Burke

Musical Spotlight: Reese Burke Releases EP

Article By Abby Parks

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Calhoun County’s best-loved rising star, Reese Burke, has released a new 3-song EP titled Half-Wasted Summers. While her CD release party has already occurred–March 29 to be exact–we wanted to catch up with her since our last spotlight on this talented singer-songwriter to chat about her new release and where her music career is headed.

A Glimpse Into Half-Wasted Summers

Being a writer of songs myself, I was eager to hear Reese’s EP. I specifically listened to the musicality, her voice, the lyrics, and any unity between the song choices. Up front, I told her that if I looked at the three tracks–“Skeleton,” “Life Without You,” and “Searchin’”–in that order, they seemed to have a unified narrative quality. I heard in “Skeleton” a relationship gone wrong and the anguish of its ending in real-time. “Life Without You” seemed like the second phase of a break-up, where the person is coming to grips with the loss and looking back through a not-so-dark lens. The third track– “Searchin”–looks forward to the possibility of finding love again.

I loved her thoughtful response to my musings: “Not necessarily, but I love when other people have their own take on it and that’s what I almost don’t want to ruin–the mystique–because I want people to think of it in their own way. When I listen to a song, I want to interpret it in my own way. And really knowing what it’s about almost ruins it.”

Though the overarching cohesion I saw may not have been planned, she did share that the songs had been written consecutively at ages 15, 16, and 17. The maturity within her lyrics certainly transcends her youth. For example, the opening track, “Skeleton,” is rich with heartfelt questions and observations directed at not one, but two love interests. In what Reese called a “diss-track”–hip terminology for a song that lays bare the not-so-attractive attributes of an object of affection–she relates a past relationship with an insensitive guy to a male friend who has asked her what had happened. Over a sparse, echoing Western-sounding instrumental track, Reese croons her chorus in soaring lament:

Why do you think I still care 

About something that was never really there?

Did my actions not speak loud enough

When you showed I was the last thing on your mind?

I let you creep back into mine

Her bridge, in turn, alludes to the title of the album:

I wasted half a summer changing what I believed 

You’re the skeleton in my closet that just never leaves

You’re always telling me I’m gonna be something big

You love it when I sing to you, but he never cared to listen

Reese explained that she and her dad brainstormed over the EP’s title, with “If You Care to Listen” being a runner-up, as well as some humorous possibilities like “Grinding Axes.” But she gives him full credit for coming up with the idea of Half-Wasted Summers. Once he put it out there, Reese said, “It fit with everything. I was like, ‘That’s it.’” The cover photo of a rusty, graffiti-marked suspension bridge proves a nice pairing with the reminiscent title.  

“Life Without You,” the second track, is Reese’s favorite. It explores a romantic mismatch, where the more entrenched she became in the relationship with a particular guy, the more she realized they had little, if anything, in common. As the relationship played out, she came to realize that she was a deep soul–someone he would never understand.

Reese looked beyond the immediate interpretation of “Searchin,” which appeared to be about someone new that has come into her life. “‘Searching’ does have that undertone of looking for an adventure, something that will make you feel alive.” Reese added that she has just graduated high school and has been accepted to Auburn University, so she’s excited over a fresh chapter opening in her life and the possibility of new adventures. So this track seems like a fitting springboard to her budding future.

When asked if there was indeed an overall arching theme to the EP, Reese related:

“When I write these songs, they’re very emotional and I’m very in it, at the time, and this is kind of just me…looking back and laughing. All of this happened, and some of it was great while it happened, and some of it was awful while it happened. But all else fails, I look back on it and I’m like, ‘Wow!’ Something good did come out of it…For me, all of these moments in my life,… they’re all cemented in this music now.”

Plans for the Singer-Songwriter, EP in Hand

Half-Wasted Summers was recorded from September to November of 2023 at RCA Studio C in Nashville under the production team Eddie Gore and Justyna Kelley. Reese had formed a connection with the duo through a friend and treasured the experience thoroughly. Though she initially wanted to include a little of her guitar playing in the instrumentation, once she heard the professional session guitarist Ethan Ballinger play, she was eager to let him steer that ship. The quality instrumentation and sound production showcasing Burke’s stellar vocals have produced a piece of art she is proud to call her own.

Reese created the EP for multiple reasons. She has a local fanbase who were periodically asking her when she would record, desirous to hear her songs beyond her live gigs at area venues like The Peerless Saloon, Coldwater Brewpub, and Southern Roots. Now they can access her music anytime via YouTube, Apple Music, Amazon, iHeart, and elsewhere.

She also considers it a portfolio of her work, her calling card as she continues to promote herself for live gig opportunities. Her future hope is to record a full-length album. She shared that the recording process was very fulfilling and that she’ll continue to pursue it. She also hopes it will get her foot in the door with new venues in the Auburn area where she’ll be relocating to.

Half-Wasted Summers has been met with a lot of support and love and is sure to propel Reese Burke forward in her blossoming music career. For now, you can still catch her playing live locally. For example, she’ll be performing at Coldwater Mountain Brewpub on Friday evening, May 17 at 7 pm. She’ll also appear at Oxford on Main the following Saturday, May 18.

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