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Bess of Bedlam — Dance until the Crimes End
(Dur et Doux DD-057, 2022, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2022-11-29

Dance until the Crimes End Cover art

In 2020, Odessey & Oracle produced the left-field release Crocorama, a charming slice of quirky pop music. That group’s Fanny L’Héritier takes on the name Bess of Bedlam for this duo album with Guillaume Médioni, which operates in similar territory, though it has a more consistent artistic vision behind it. “Greenham Women” starts things off sounding like an English folk song arranged with the vocals backed by echoing guitar and keyboards. It’s got a cheerful bounce to it that is infectious in spite of the oddness of the instrumentation. Multiple lovely vocal parts weave in and out of the guitar, keyboards, and bass, and there’s just a touch of percussion towards the end. “Willie” brings in a finger-picked acoustic guitar and a banjo, and again feels a bit like a modern arrangement of a folk song, though there’s some chromaticism in the melody that adds a modern touch. L’Héritier handles all the vocals and keyboards along with some guitar; Médioni plays guitar, bass, and banjo plus “rhythmic arrangements” (which are generally pretty minimal). The sound is clean and has a lovely open feeling, never venturing into noise or chaos. Dance until the Crimes End is a master class in fitting together vocal parts with other instruments. A melodic fragment will be introduced by a background vocal, then picked up by a guitar, and the way it all fits together is just marvelous. It’s lush without being overbearing and clever without being fussy. Each of the eleven songs has a distinct charm and character, and while there’s not really anything approaching rock, the energy has a tranquil feel to it, a kind of gentle playfulness like a bright summer afternoon remembered through a gauzy haze of time. Bess of Bedlam’s music may not fit into any existing category, but is all the more intriguing for its uniqueness.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Bess of Bedlam (Fanny L’Héritier)

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