Believers - AA Bondy Album Review
If there can be a musical place that is fixed somewhere between dreams and reality, the conscious and the unconscious, light and dark, then A.A. Bondy seems to have found it. The Alabaman alt folk musician has on this, his third solo recording, captured the essence of haunted dreamscape visions that flash and pulse like a disorientating David Lynch movie.
The album cover, shot in black and white, showing a lone figure walking down a deserted road, lit by overhead lights, may well be an allegorical depiction of an artist who, despite having fair recognition in the US (several of his songs have been used in TV series' such as 'House' and 'One Tree Hill'), remains largely still an unknown figure, yet one upon whom a glow hovers overhead for the sheer artistic calibre of his work. It also probably sums up the body of 'Believers' as a whole.
Prior to turning to his genre of minimalist folk, Bondy previously fronted the rock band Verbena, so this change of direction after they broke up in 2003, is somewhat stark. Described as being 'conjured during and between dreams in bare rooms, and on the late night streets of America', this is an album that is as beautiful, as it is lyrically mystifying; as calm and serene, as it starkly opposes; a work of depth, and a truly satisfying one to boot, and Auguste Arthur Bondy's best solo collection to date.
The blues-styled opening track 'The Heart Is Willing', filled with the shimmering guitar sound that drives many of the nine tracks that follow, manages to strike a chill in the bones as its notes cast icy fingers across the senses. On 'Surfer King', its couplet form tells of 'No more evil now/No horror sound/No maniac song', backed by a pedal steel guitar and a film noir air so vivid that you are almost waiting for a climactic horror vision to unfold suddenly before you. Comparisons to Ryan Adams are inevitable, with 'Believers' slow drive folk-rock burn, but with the lush slide guitar and Bondy's achingly mournful vocals on the seven-minute long 'Rte. 28/Believers' it errs more towards Tom Petty territory; while 'Drmz', guided by Ben Lester's drums, brings out shades of Leonard Cohen in its almost monotone delivery style.
Taken at a pace that rarely veers off the slow drive highway, 'Believers' languidly caresses, with one foot on the melancholic pedal all the while. Coming as a late release this year, it may be well into 2012 before people start to sit up and take notice of this album. But now on a European tour and hitting the UK in the next weeks, talk about Auguste Arthur Bondy there surely will be. Believe.