Music Reviews

Bedouine Waysides

(Bedouine Music) Rating - 7/10

Sometimes it takes looking at the past to be able to move forward. It's an adage that Azniv Korkejian, aka Bedouine, took to heart when she decided to revisit a stockpile of songs she'd written, but hadn't released, even before her 2017 self-titled album. These fragments of the past eventually turned into Waysides, a collection of songs that Korkejian wrote while taking refuge in her LA home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Korkejian, this period of stasis allowed her to nourish and breathe new life into them. She quickly realized that the more sentimental aspects of her former self connected with the state of flux she found herself in. That feeling of settling in and letting those emotions rush over you come through on I Don't Need the Light, on which Korkejian clings into faint hope over an almost acapella performance. The mood here is spare and contemplative, like on The Wave, which finds her thinking about a friend she lost—and aspiring to her uncomplicated approach to life—over a flighty acoustic strum. She never complicates the process considering her gentle, delicate approach to songwriting, letting the weight of her words sink in instead.

While Waysides is unmatched in quality and execution, it sometimes feels a little too neat compared to the lush orchestrations of her breakthrough 2019 LP Bird Songs of a Killjoy. But there are some surprises to behold, coming in late into the album. Forever Everette begins as a bare confession in the immediate aftermath of a betrayal, building into a jazzy swing that feels urgent and passionate. And on album highlight Sonnet 104, Korkejian and frequent creative collaborator/partner Gus Seyffert sing in harmonic unison layered over Spanish guitar strumms and a waltzy drum pattern. Though gorgeous in their own right, they both feel like sketches of what could've been a larger project.

Still, Korkejian's elegant folk flourishes resonate with such warmth and clarity that it's easy to set aside these sequencing quibbles. Waysides feels like the personal statement she needed to make at the right time, flowing with an openness that signifies a period of transition. When she closes the album with a haunting, Julee Cruise-like cover of Fleetwood Mac's Songbird, we're entranced with Korkejian's ability to find comfort in the unfamiliar. She's letting us in into her uncertainty, making art in difficult times both worldly and individual—and it feels like a gift.