Taken from “bedouin,” Azniv Korkejian’s stage name Bedouine plays on the expansive geographies the folk artist has traveled in her life. Her music delightfully meanders, demanding clear minds and wide open space in a reflection of this moniker. Many of the songs on Korkejian’s third album Waysides, released Oct. 22, at one point fell by the waysides, as many tracks were written across long stretches of time or could not find places in her first two albums. With a folksy sensibility that finds inspiration from Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez and others, Korkejian’s Waysides shows her artistry’s natural progression and its ability to maintain a sound that is distinctly her own.
The album begins on a strong note with “The Solitude,” a misleadingly upbeat soft country track that accompanies the melancholic story of losing a lover and acclimating oneself to the many odd reminders of being alone — Korkejian sings of one-sided dinners, excess pillows and extra sets of keys. This song bleeds into “It Wasn’t Me,” which alternatively tells a story of spending a romantic evening with someone.
The following “I Don’t Need the Light” epitomizes sad girl autumn, as Korkejian explores the need to express feelings without sugar-coating pain: She sings “And why should I keep from the hurting/ I don’t need the light if I’m not looking at you.” Paired with simple guitar picking that grows into an all-encompassing arrangement, the track engulfs listeners until they are enveloped by a storm of emotion.
Minimal but deeply intentional, the instrumentation throughout Waysides centers Korkejian’s signature finger-picking style on many tracks, including on “Easy” and “You Never Leave Me.” “This Machine,” one of the album’s many highlights, concludes with an electric guitar solo paired with soulful organ.
Lyrically, loss of control over feelings and the acceptance that comes with this realization appears to be one of the album’s prominent themes. In the album’s lead single “The Wave,” Korkejian sings, “I cannot contain the way I feel for you/ Or anything/ I ride the wave,” while spacey sound effects at the end of each chorus suggest that these uncontainable feelings expand beyond this world. “Sonnet 104” utilizes the human voice as an instrument by highlighting harmonies that update the words of William Shakespeare’s poem with a haunting refrain: “Those unborn, who will never be/ Witness to summer’s beauty.”
Korkejian’s lyrics are simple yet effective, evoking complex emotions and a sense of self-reflection that often gives the effect of reading from a diary. Combined with sweet and atmospheric arrangements, Korkejian’s soft and warm vocals create a gentle world for listeners to rest their weary heads and to feel all their feelings. Korkejian’s vocals especially shine on “Forever Everette,” which is set to a minimal backing that eventually builds to a climax.
While Korkejian’s vocals are relaxed, they are anything but monotonous, meaningfully coloring songs that are tender but firm in executing their storytelling with earnesty. The strength of Waysides is Korkejian’s ability to deftly balance emotions, pairing the somber with the upbeat and leaning into silver linings to make for satisfying intimacy.
Waysides concludes with “Songbird,” a Fleetwood Mac cover, updating the source material’s classic piano accompaniment with an atmospheric instrumentation including synth and xylophone. It beautifully conveys the expansive nature of the love expressed in the lyrics.
With a runtime of just 37 minutes, no song overstays its welcome. In fact, at the end of Waysides, listeners will likely find themselves hungry for another track or two. Luckily, the album is incredibly repeatable due to its confessional yet relatable, personal yet expansive qualities. A journey of looking to the past and gaining wisdom, Waysides cements Korkejian as a unique and exciting voice of modern folk.