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Music Review: Bedhed and Blondy – ‘Down South’

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The new nine-song CD by Bedhed and Blondy is as tightly constructed as last year’s Nuthin’…. On this one, the songs didn’t grab me as immediately, but it’s grown on me after several listens. Again Fran Jackson and primary songwriter Jay Studdard share lead vocals as well as smooth harmonies, and again smooth sound and songwriting fight profitably with an overall anxious feeling.

Vocals and lead guitar are recorded with minimal effects so they sound like they’re pushing up against the walls of your brain (I guess that would be your skull). Smartly constructed lyrics and a softspoken, adult musical sense add up to a batch of groovy alt-country/Americana. “Workin’ my last nerve, pullin’ that trigger, tryin’ to make up my mind,” sings Jackson in the opening track “Lovin’ You,” defining with those words the quivering flavor of the whole endeavor, which is further reinforced by the dense harmonics of “Merry Go Round (Bummer)” with its vaguely scary carnival-esque keyboard.

Ther’s no standout uptempo number here. My favorite tracks are the tense, slow, minor-key “Just Another Man,” the Fleetwood Mac-like “This Time Tomorrow” with Joe Bidewell’s warbling organ, and that opening waltz “Loving You” where Jackson’s vocals ride atop the tide of the instruments like a crisp wind over dark water. Her songwriting contribution, “You Win,” boasts a nicely ironic-anthemic use of my least-favorite modern platitude, the gratingly annoying “It’s all good.”

The lack of a strong chorus in the funky and driving “Down South” disappoints, though the song still works as a jam-band type number with its flowing signature guitar riff and soulful organ punches. A similar lack of payoff afflicts the dimly psychedelic, initially promising “Rain,” which reminds me of something off of Her Satanic Majesty’s Request. Come to think of it, and speaking of mind-altering substances, I’m going to try one more whiskey before my next listen to this moody, lush-sounding disc.

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is an Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. He writes the blog Park Odyssey, for which he is visiting and blogging every park in New York City—over a thousand of them. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. By night he's a working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.