Classic. Sepia. Grayscale. Nostalgia.
These are the filters we all apply to our world. With the swipe of a hand we can take the edge off the harsh realities of our lives, gleaming over or improving upon our base subjects. It is often an attempt to smooth over the cracks in an attempt to portray that perfect moment, to cushion the blow and provide protection for ourselves while masquerading for those looking in. And in most cases we add these filters to give the impression of age, trying to place the moment in the past before it’s even over to prove it was worthy of note.
Bird Songs of a Killjoy is the second record from Azniv Korkejian, the LA-based musician behind Bedouine. The beauty and unshakable warmth at the core of her breezy folk acts as the filter to her own world, a safe space she has created within which she can evaluate her relationships with others and herself.
Sun-bleached with a tactile familiarity the record feels lived in. Some of its direct influences come from decades long gone (Joan Collins, CSN), but to suggest it sounds dated would be unfair. The twelve tracks radiate an ageless confidence, unconcerned with the hands of time. In places there is a commonality with Marissa Nadler, although where Nadler’s gothic Americana mirrors the darkness of her lyrics Korkejian’s pits her music and lyrics against each other; troubled words accompanied by cloud scattering instrumentation.
Korkejian had a disrupted youth that saw her moving from Syria to Saudi Arabia and then on to America. This tumultuous globe spanning is captured in the near autobiographical “Bird Gone Wild”. “Daddy was an electrician / Fingers to the bone / Mama was a seamstress / Stitched everything she owned / Crossing the Atlantic / A dream over the tide.” This disruption turned to disorientation and alienation as she found herself isolated in a country where promises of dreams were meant to be fulfilled. “Don’t let me down / I’m beating ‘round a cage like a Bird gone wild.”
There is a thread of enchanting authenticity and a dedication to craft that weaves its way through Bird Songs of a Killjoy. Its swirling savannas orchestral swells evoke a faded Hollywood glamour. This level of finesse permeates the work of a number of the artists on the Spacebomb label, and although operating in different spheres there are similarities to the luscious production of Natalie Prass, with Bedouine drawing from folk as opposed to pop and soul.
“Under the Night” provides an easing introduction to the album. A whispered three count follow by Korkejian’s voice and delicate guitar are slowly joined by orchestral embellishments. As if woken from a dream Korkejian ruminates on shared solitude and the distances between ourselves that we create (“Cause when I’m alone / we’re still looking at the same moon”). The ability - or inability - to bridge gaps in a relationship is again the focus of “When You’re Gone” (“I love you / You love how much / I love you”). This track is also responsible for one of the albums most inescapable melodies, and when it makes a welcome return later in the record on “Reprise” it carries you away all over again.
There is an abundance of references to birds on the record, a reminder of the humbling continuity of nature. People are pulled apart, life plays cruel games, but something greater outlasts. One of Korkejian’s most winning qualities is the ability to create divine moments that flutter and fade, applying a layer of gloss on heartbreak, to steal through the darkness and soften the edges.
Bird Songs of a Killjoy is a soft filter through which to view the world. It is a record to lean into, a brief respite from the daily grind to catch your breath and find your own peace and understanding.