Tré Burt’s folk songs sound like they have been plucked from the 1960s, but his story is made with modern-day miracles. Burt was busking in San Francisco when a stranger generously dropped $1000 in his open guitar case, effectively changing Burt’s life. With that money he booked a tour with Portland as last stop. He ended up living there for a while and started writing the songs that would lead to Caught It from the Rye.
More songs came to Burt while he briefly lived in Australia, and eventually, in 2018, he self-released his debut LP, Caught It from the Rye. Burt didn’t have a publicist or any label interest at the time, but he decided to put his record online, as so many artists do, with the hope that somebody would stumble upon it and connect with it. Rarely does that actually happen, but in another twist of fate, it did: The director of operations at John Prine’s label Oh Boy Records ended up finding Burt’s record, and he got signed.
Caught It from the Rye is a bustling album. Throughout, Burt picks and strums his guitar, the instrumental anchor of the record, in steady time with his ceaseless inquisitiveness. His reedy voice is also always moving, as if playing tag with his guitar melodies. In all, it feels like we’re tailing the Sacramento-based singer-songwriter as he wanders, offering his thoughts on whatever passes by.
At times Burt’s songs feel directionless, but mostly his sharp lyricism makes them feel special and perennial. On the album standout “Undead God of War,” Burt paints a fractious scene that could be from either the past or present: “The judiciary branch falls off the money tree / And Mother Nature, I guess she caters / to those with white skin.” A few songs later, on “Only Sorrow Remains,” he mournfully acknowledges the reason behind the timeless quality of his lyricism: “I live in an age that’s repeating the past / almost word for word.”
Burt closes Caught It from the Rye with the aptly titled track, “Last Hurrah.” It’s a song about the end of a relationship — “Don’t wanna waste more of your time / it ain’t fair / to neither one of us,” he sings — but it feels far from a final parting. Considering the way things have already gone, Burt has a lot more in store for him, and Caught It from the Rye is just the beginning.