Bedouine, “Waysides”

Bedouine
Waysides
SELF-RELEASED
8/10

“Some days, I don’t ever draw the curtains,” sings Azniv Korkejian on “I Don’t Need the Light,” the third song on her third album as Bedouine, Waysides. “I don’t mind a dark afternoon.” Most of her fans would probably agree. Korkejian makes exquisite Sad Day music, perfectly designed for those times when you want to bask in a bittersweet mood or nurse a romantic ache. Her first two albums under the moniker made her a go-to for moody listeners, with their blend of lilting Laurel Canyon country and serenely austere psychedelic folk, elegantly world-weary and impeccably arranged. You can lie around in bed listening to them all day, and happily keep the curtains closed.

On Waysides, Korkejian makes the wise choice to stay put stylistically and even reverse course a little, shedding some of the jazzier soft-rock flourishes that she added to the mix on her sophomore album, Bird Songs of a Killjoy. But she brings a new level of craft and confidence to the material that disproves the notion that progress necessarily means moving forward. Sometimes the best direction is just to dig deeper.

Korkejian isn’t flashy when it comes to showing off her leveled-up skills. The album opens with “The Solitude,” a country-tinged ode to the sweet loneliness of being home when a partner’s away but sure to return. The arrangement weaves together a delicate finger-picked acoustic guitar figure and lightly sketched lines of electric piano and electric guitar that dance around the kind of instantly catchy vocal melody that you can find yourself singing along to before your first listen’s over. By the time the gently funky Rhodes solo drops in you can almost reach out and feel the blankets on the bed that suddenly seems too big, and remember the way someone’s absence can make you grasp the scale of how much you love them.

From there, the album stays in its groove, offering enough subtle modulations in tempo and style to keep a listener engaged without breaking the mood. Korkejian’s a smart enough artist at this point not to try and get by on vibes alone. Every track is playlist-worthy, and serves to show that even in the small musical patch that Waysides stakes out, there are infinite possibilities. “It Wasn’t Me” and “Easy” find a sweet spot between circa-Chelsea Girl Nico and early Linda Ronstadt. “I Don’t Need the Light” broods in a mist of slightly icy psychedelia. The penultimate track, “Forever Everette,” offers the album’s biggest surprise: a tender acoustic ballad to a fuck-up friend that suddenly blooms into a driving, soaringly sad finale that evokes Elliott Smith’s LA era to devastating effect. Like the rest of the songs on Waysides, it’s deeply satisfying, but leaves you aching for more.

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