Jun 28, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

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Great albums originate from fortuitous circumstances. Bedouine's Azniv Korkejian, the Aleppo-born Armenian singer/songwriter by way of Boston, Houston, and eventually Los Angeles, went to Gus Seyffert's studio in hopes of purchasing a reel-to-reel tape machine. Curious, Seyffert, who has worked with the likes of Norah Jones and Beck, asked Korkejian to play a song for him. Following this chance encounter, the two willed into existence one of this year's strongest debut albums: Bedouine.

Unlike its etymological derivative, Bedouine is music of wonder more than wander. An amalgam of '70s Laurel Canyon country rock and Astrud Gilberto's subdued bossa nova incantations, Korkejian permits the listener to eavesdrop on unread letters to lovers, weighing the risks and rewards of remaining with them, or relenting and walking away for good. Lithe and unassuming, Korkejian plays with Joni Mitchell-esque vocal phrases, using tongue-in-cheek country rock tropes in new ways, while maintaining the pleasant orchestrations that resemble Gram Parson's Grievous Angel.

Bedouine's opener, "Nice and Quiet," begins in a low whisper and barely rises above it during the track. Gently fingerpicked acoustic guitar interweaves between Trey Pollard's subtle, yet refined, orchestration. Each line Korkejian delivers feels understated, but pointed. The irony lurks within the song's soft dynamic, trying to keep her mind nice and quiet during a failing situation.

"Back to You" features a thoughtful guitar solo from veteran session musician Smokey Hormel, who has always said more with less in his crystalline performances. "Solitary Daughter" summons Leonard Cohen's lingering ghost, showcasing Korkejian's capacity to sell each meaningful lyric with a conversational delivery.

Neither a wasted note nor a moment of excess can be found on Bedouine. And in a time of gross artistic pretentions, it bares none of those things. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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