Music

Folk Singer-Songwriter Bedouine Innovates and Mesmerizes on 'Songs of a Killjoy'

Photo: Spacebomb Records via Bandcamp

By the time Songs of a Killjoy is halfway through, it feels almost impossible to escape Bedouine's gravitational pull - and unthinkable that anyone would even want to do so.

Songs of a Killjoy
Bedouine

Spacebomb

21 June 2019

Singer-songwriter Azniv Korkejian - Bedouine to her audiences - has an instantly recognizable voice. Low and smooth, its power belies a grace both gentle and lithe. On new album Bird Songs of a Killjoy, she leans into this strength, and sounds better than ever, velvet-lined and angelic, buoyant and steady. Her voice is all jewel-toned hues, soothing from the very start, the "One, two, three" that leads into lovelorn ballad "Under the Night".

Born in Syria, raised in Saudi Arabia and around the United States, and now based in Los Angeles, Bedouine has an interesting history that could have taken her in many musical directions. What she has developed, though, is a take on acoustic folk that tends toward southern California sunny, even at its most melancholy. Every song has a radiant core, a subtle and compelling glow. Though obvious vintage vibes influence her song crafting, Bedouine's music never sounds like it comes from another time - the production is too clear, too modern, perhaps deliberately placing her right where she is. The music on Bird Songs of a Killjoy is fresher for it.

For about four tracks, the music of Bird Songs of a Killjoy moves easily, a sweet breeze with the occasional Americana twang. Then comes "Dizzy" - and Bedouine instantly blows all expectations out of the water. As she sings in that honeyed voice of Grecian beaches and desert mountain, a storm of soulful violins rises, underlain by crashing drums and dotted with sparkling synth notes. A breathtaking slide into the dramatic, it clears up just in time for pensive "Bird" ("It's you against the rain / And I'm not sure yet who will win," she sings), where mournful horns, flutes, and strings add tension to Bedouine's soft-spoken words.

A story of growing up in the working class, trapped by economically-imposed limits on perceived artistic opportunities ("My mind was painting pictures only I could see") adds urgency to Bedouine's pleas ("Don't let me down / I'm beating around a cage like a bird gone wild") on "Bird Gone Wild"; dulcet guitar and violin lines cushion her vexation. A dynamic final bird song, "Hummingbird", builds quickly from a beautiful solo introduction to an atmospheric journey thick with moving harmonies.

"Matters of the Heart" returns the album to a more uncomplicated place, where it stays for the final four swaying tracks. They comprise a rather long denouement for such a climactic midsection, but it's still not easy to break away before the album is over. To listen to Bedouine, after all, is to let her hypnotize you, to surrender to rapture and return to daily life more refreshed for the time spent in her thrall. On Songs of a Killjoy, she innovates in unexpected ways, rejecting the monotony that she could easily embrace for a fully coffee shop-ready repertoire. She challenges herself and her audience to go deeper. By the time the album is halfway through, it feels almost impossible to escape her gravitational pull - and unthinkable that anyone would even want to do so. If this is what being a killjoy is all about, sign me up for the cantankerous life.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.

Music

Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.

Music

That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.

Books

Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.

Reviews

Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.

Music

Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.

Film

'Thor: Ragnarok' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.

Music

Alps 2 and Harry No Release Eclectic Single "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" (premiere)

Alps 2 and Harry NoSong's "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" is a dizzying mix of mangled 2-step rhythms and woozy tranquil electronics.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.