Back Pocket Buddha releases new album, “Constellations”

Published 8:00 am Saturday, September 2, 2023

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The combination of rhythm, tempo and lyrics can be a healing mixture of word and sound for both listeners and musicians. Brian Burke, of Greenville, knows this well as his latest album “Constellations” is a therapeutic experience filled with introspection.

Burke is an alumnus of East Carolina University who earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Therapy and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Substance Abuse Counseling. 

He was inspired to pursue Music Therapy, because he came from a musical and compassionate family. “I’ve always felt like helping people was my calling,” Burke said. 

Burke used music as a modality of treatment in his private practice for six years. Today, he works with a managed care organization.  

“I always felt like helping people and doing it in a way that I loved was just something I really enjoyed doing – using music to help people is right up my alley,” Burke said.  

In turn, the creative process behind writing, playing and producing music is cathartic for Burke. “I felt like music and producing and creating was more about me expressing what’s going on in my head and heart and getting it out,” Burke said. 

“Constellations” is a collection of nine songs Burke has written over the last 20 years depicting either what goes through his mind or another person’s lived experience. “It’s along the road of my life those songs came to be,” he said. 

“For that album, I felt like there was a lot of introspection in terms of looking at me as a person and putting it out there for the world to hear,” Burke said. He continued to say it could also be introspective for the listener as they process certain thoughts and emotions. 

The title track is hopeful and optimistic. Listeners are encouraged to look at the stars, constellations in the sky as beacons of light during dark and difficult times in their lives. 

“Just keep your head up high, Never take your eye off the sky,” Burke sings. 

He brings in a level of compassion by promising the person he sings to that he will always be there to encourage and support them when life doesn’t go how they planned or when they are feeling down.  

But one song had people worrying about Burke. Though it’s written in the first person, “Numb” is not about Burke, but rather it is a glimpse into a person’s life who is struggling with addiction. 

“Will you be there when I wake from this sleep? To help me feel the things I’ve been scared to feel, Or will I just stay numb,” Burke sings. 

“This Fantasy” is a similar song about struggling and being unable to stop thinking that life could be better if situations could be changed in some way. 

The album can be summed up in one song, “Nothing at All” in which Burke shares a tenet of Buddhism that “we are all in this together and we’re all struggling and we all know nothing, but we’re going to get there and all together at the same time,” Burke shared,  I think that is one of the album – do the work to look at yourself, but also know while you’re looking you know very little about the universe and what’s going on.” 

Listeners can hear these songs live when Burke plays at venues in Washington like Market Street Pub, Blu Farm to Table, Parlé, Backwater Jack’s Tiki Bar and Grill, High Water Social.   He goes by the stage name Back Pocket Buddha. 

He hopes the songs will resonate with audience members. “I write the music for me, but other people hopefully can connect to it as well,” he said. He enjoys seeing people form their own interpretations of his songs and infer for themselves the songs’ meanings. 

“Constellations” was released on Aug. 8. It can be streamed on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Youtube. The album was produced with assistance from Chuck Phillips at Edgewater Studios in Washington.