The new self-titled album from Bedouine, out Friday on Spacebomb Records, caught me totally by surprise. Expecting something wispy, I got a record that bears favorable comparisons to some Joni Mitchell releases. While the compositions are not quite as complex, Bedouine's supple voice gives these cuts a depth that the songs of other current singers simply do not have.
If opener "Nice And Quiet" eases a listener into Bedouine's world via some simple and direct neo-folk stylings, the more sultry "One Of These Days" offers up something pitched between Joni and early Linda Rondstadt. At her best, Bedouine sinks into these cuts in such a way that one marvels at not only her voice, but her compositions as well. There are songs here that tread a semi-safe path ("Dusty Eyes") and a few others, most notably the marvelous "Solitary Daughter", where Bedouine's voice recalls that of Peggy Lee even as the material takes a more arty turn that places it vaguely in Laura Nyro territory. On some tracks, like "Mind's Eye", there's even a trace of a sort of Sandy Denny-vibe to things. What makes this record so special is the ease with which Bedouine pulls all this together, navigating a few styles with a remarkable naturalness. Relaxed and fully in command as a vocalist, Bedouine reveals one of the warmest new vocalists one is likely to encounter in the current musical climate. Fans of Emma Pollock (The Delgados), Judee Sill, and solo Natalie Merchant should find a lot to like in these largely down-tempo numbers.
[Photo: Antonia Barrowman]