Bedouine’s self titled debut opens with a song entitled ‘Nice And Quiet’. It’s a track as understated as its title may suggest and it sees Syrian-born, American-based singer/songwriter Azniv Korkejian start as she means to go on; Bedouine is an exploration of internal uncertainty and inner dialogues and, as such, it’s an innately introspective record. Korkejian uses her songs as platforms to examine a gauntlet of internal emotions but, despite this, it’s never an overwrought album, rather one where Korkejian paints with subtle inflections rather than broad strokes. Indeed, Bedouine’s tendency towards the understated lends the album a quiet resilience and discreet power but, at the same time, it is something of a double edged sword.
The album’s low-key delivery doesn’t negate the album’s emotional variety but it does belie it. The nonchalantly sun-dappled gaze of ‘Mind’s Eye’ certainly has the potential to sit in stark contrast to the more melancholic contemplations of ‘Solitary Daughter’ – but an overly consistent sonic palette doesn’t quite allow for the full dynamism and range of the album’s songs to shine through. It’s certainly not that ‘Bedouine’ is a poorly arranged album; far from it. Sighing strings drift out of the mix in wistful flourishes of dejected warmth that add no shortage of character to Korkejian’s songs and, although much of her debut album is based around gently plucked guitar, when bouncing country-inflected bass and workmanlike drums join her – as they do on a number of songs – it’s to effective results.
Taken out of context, none of the ten songs on Bedouine’s debut album fail to stand up to examination but, slotted back into the wider context of the album as a whole, things start to appear a little too uniform. It’s not just arrangement which could benefit from a little more diversity; tempos, too, lack variety – a few faster pieces dotted in amongst the generally slow-to-mid tempo ballads would have only benefited the album. Even if overly consistent presentation mutes the album’s impact a little, it’s not enough to obscure the quality of the songs and Bedouine remains an affecting proposition. Korkejian’s vocals steal the show here; her voice is simultaneously stately and baleful and packs no shortage of punch despite the softness of her delivery.
‘Bedouine’ is an impressive debut album and it’s easy to forgive the record any slight misjudgements. Korkejian’s lyricism is frequently striking and it’s matched, particularly in the often swelling choruses, with an acute sense of melody that lends itself to some immediately memorable moments. The gentle country-folk sway of ‘One Of These Days’ couples a quietly propulsive rhythm section with a warm, sumptuously melodic chorus and a hook-laden delivery. ‘Dusty Eyes’ likewise stands out for the slow-burning clarity of it’s extended chorus, the four and half minute runtime giving all involved time to stretch out and relish the warmth of the atmosphere.
‘Bedouine’ is a debut that signposts good things to come but, perhaps more importantly, it still has plenty to offer in its own right. It’s a well written, compellingly honest album and one that deserves the attention of all those willing to give it time.
The albums full track-listing is as follows…
1. Nice and Quiet
2. One of These Days
3. Back to You
4. Dusty Eyes
5. Solitary Daughter
6. Summer Cold
7. Mind’s Eye
8. You Kill Me
9. Heart Take Flight