Despite Technical Difficulties, Burnett’s Set Proves Successful


Courtesy of Bryan Rubin

Musical Studies major, singer-songwriter and College senior Autumn Burnett strums her mother’s guitar. Aside from technical issues, Burnett’s Saturday performance at the Slow Train Café delighted a welcoming crowd.

Samuel Rueckert

Slow Train’s live sound is not equal in quality to its coffee, but College senior Autumn Burnett’s song-writing talent shone through at her Saturday night performance despite technical issues. Minutes before performing, Burnett sat at a table with a couple of friends, calmly sipping a glass of red wine. Unlike other artists who snag a last minute tuneup or run through chords in some inconspicuous pocket of the venue, Burnett appeared nonchalant before taking the stage. With a visibly relaxed stage presence and quietly extroverted demeanor, the Musical Studies major appeared comfortable in the supportive atmosphere created by her audience. Before commencing her set, Burnett thanked the audience and delivered a quick joke about using her mom’s guitar.

Singer-songwriters often fall into the trap of using blasé chord sequences, wielding shallow lyrics and, frankly, not owning their instruments. Burnett managed not to fall prey to such clichés Saturday night. Autumn Burnett doesn’t do sing-alongs.

The title of her performance, “Deciduous,” accurately reflected her sound. The “animal imagery” and “inarticulate fairy tales” mentioned in her event description failed to shine through live. However, it was not her fault that her lyrics lacked clarity. Slow Train’s sub-par sound system rendered her sound cloudy and muffled her lyrics. Unfortunately, even her beautiful guitar playing suffered. The feedback occasionally infiltrating the system was a hint that the soundboard technician that night was inexperienced with live sound. Burnett, however, treated the mediocre sound setup professionally and still managed to put on a good show. Despite the muddled sound quality, her ambient tones provided a solid reflection of what her show description suggested.

Burnett opened her set with a lullaby-like cover of an old Scottish folk song, “Ca’ the Yows.” Her dynamic chords were satisfyingly accurate, and the lyrics evoked images of mythical green lands and fairy tales. The heavy influence of Scottish folk on her original songs sustained the “deciduous” vibe of her performance.

Similar to The Decemberists, whose sound blends American rock and British folk, Burnett integrates eclectic elements into her music. Her second song, an original piece titled “Sable and the Cornucopia of Bad Dreams” invoked sonic elements of acoustic Led Zeppelin or even Simon & Garfunkel. Later, she covered Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather.” Her songs strayed from repetitiveness with unexpected, yet natural, chromatic turns, and her solid singing ability and guitar technique bolstered an already bright performance.

Though Burnett wavered on a handful of notes, her unpretentious stage presence and appreciation of the audience elevated her performance. After finishing her last song, she praised her audience: “I really like all of you.”