2020_wmot_website_header.png
WMOT 89.5 | LISTENER-POWERED RADIO INDEPENDENT AMERICAN ROOTS
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Liner Notes

First Listen: Tré Burt’s You, Yeah, You

Tre Burt
Courtesy of the Artist
/
Tré Burt

Sacramento-based folk artist Tré Burt just dropped his new record, You, Yeah, You this past Friday, August 27th on John Prine’s Oh Boy Records. The title is an attention grabber, and that’s what Tré Burt is doing here with his sophomore record.

Tre Burt Album Art You, Yeah, You

Sacramento-based folk artist Tré Burt just dropped his new record, You, Yeah, You this past Friday, August 27th on John Prine’s Oh Boy Records. The title is an attention grabber, and that’s what Tré Burt is doing here with his sophomore record.

The album title was pulled from the track “Sweet Misery:” you, yeah, you, who else am I talking to? The concept of misery is personified in that tune, as Sweet Misery is omnipresent, ever-ready for embrace but denied in the name of mental peace. A vanilla ice cream cone with sprinkles melts as it serves as a projector screen of images of bombs and hearts.

The most important track by far is “By the Jasmine” which could be considered a follow-up to his single, “Under the Devil’s Knee.” Burt released the latter, accompanied by Allison Russell, Leyla McCalla and Sunny War in September 2020. The title references the murder of George Floyd, with verses dedicated to narrating the lives and murders of Eric Garner and Breonna Taylor.

“By the Jasmine” is a narrative tune where a Black man named Dante goes walking in his neighborhood at night because he can’t sleep, and a white jogger named Karen calls the cops on him and he ends up dead. It’s a good-vs-evil story where sadly, but unsurprisingly, good never had a chance and evil, thy name is Karen.

Tré Burt is often compared to John Prine and Bob Dylan, but Burt himself has said that he draws more from Mississippi John Hurt and Elizabeth Cotten. To be sure, he stands among them as a brilliant storyteller and songwriter. To wit: Elizabeth Cotten wrote the oft-covered tune “Freight Train” when she was a teenager growing up in North Carolina in the early 20th Century. And we can’t ignore the influence of blues and folk legends like Furry Lewis, whose song “Good Morning Judge” tells the first person story of a Black man falsely accused of crimes: they arrest me for forgery/I can’t even write my name, as well as the Mississippi Sheiks, a pre-WWII string band, who wrote a song about police brutality as far back as the 1930s.

But is it even necessary to compare? I think Tré Burt is doing his own thing. He’s making important work, on his own terms. In a recent interview with Iowa Public Radio, Tré Burt said that he considers himself an earthbound field reporter whose songs are his correspondence with “the mothership.” He’s not asking to be pulled aboard, he’s just beaming up the truth.

Tré Burt will be joining Jessie Scott for Words and Music this Wednesday, September 1st. Listen live at 4pm or stream the video at NPR Live Sessions.