A.A. Bondy – Believers

January 01, 1970

(Fat Possum)




Having made a drastic detour from his original outfit, the
punk/grunge band Verbena, Scott (a/k/a A.A.) Bondy has carved himself a
comfortable niche as a folk-influenced bard. He’s not the first to take that
tack; Peter Case, Ryan Adams and Eddie Vedder have all veered off their
original tangents and created a soothing sound decidedly at odds with the
rampaging bluster they forwarded early on. But since Bondy’s previous work is
not all that well known, in his case there’s little chance that he’ll be judged
against any earlier template.


As a result, those who have come lately to Bondy’s body of
work will celebrate his efforts without any preconceived notions, and while
calling him a full-fledged folkie runs the danger of overstating his intent,
there is a certain humility and sobriety to his work. With Believers, the third album of a sublime trilogy etched over the
past four years, Bondy opts for atmospheric arrangements and contemplative
ruminations that often bring to mind Leonard Cohen or mid-period Joni Mitchell
in their hushed reverence. Though it starts on a strikingly fearsome note with
the tenuous opening track “The Heart Is Willing,” it’s thankfully all hazy
ambiance from that point on. “Down in the Fire (Lost Sea)” recalls the
evocative aura of Jesse Winchester’s beautiful “Biloxi,” while the cosmic
embers of the instrumental “123 Dupuy Street” bring to mind some faraway
dreamland. “DRMZ” and “RTE.28/Believers” are equally evocative and breathlessly
haunting at that.


So if the lazy, lilting melodies often elude a ready grasp,
it’s the overall mood that lingers long after. True to its title, Believers does indeed have the potential
to make faithful advocates of all.


in the Fire (Lost Sea),” “RTE.28/Believers,” “DRMZ” LEE ZIMMERMAN


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