Deborah Bond - Madame Palindrome (2011)

Deborah Bond

Deborah Bond Madame Palindrome.jpg

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Deborah Bond is a groove artist for the chic set. A consistent presence as a session and background singer in the Washington, DC independent music scene, her voice consistently falls into the pocket and effortlessly rides the modern rhythmic production waves of her atmospheric band, Third Logic. On sublime neo-funk compositions like “5:35” and “You are the One,” Bond kicks up her heels and parties on musical shores as sophisticated as they are fun. On jazzy electric-soul ballads, Bond coos like an island breeze across string-heavy, percussive neo-80s soundscapes that pulsate with the city sounds of champagne toasts and penthouse living. Throughout these moonlit rides, Bond and her band prove to be thinking musicians with an unfailing sense of maturity, place, and drive.

It feels liks an age since we last heard from singer/songwriter Deborah Bond on her 2003 debut, DayAfter, and its standout ballad, “Sweet Lullabies.” Her alto has grown lighter, surer, and more technically proficient since then. Refined from the ensuing years of supporting a virtual who’s who of East Coast indy and mainstream soul from Kem and Ledisi to Frank McComb and Eric Roberson, Bond has come a long way in eight years, leaving fans only a remix of DayAfter to tide them over in the meantime.

Airy voiced with a sultry resonance, on her sophomore project of original tunes, Bond - possessing her still youthful tones - does not always yield the most distinctive vocal presence as a soloist. But, her skill, brilliance, and efficiency is never less than awe-inspiring. The ease of the many transitions on “Perfect” is a technician’s sleight of hand, making the difficult look effortless. Bond’s deft hop-scotch handling of the tune’s multi-syllabic phrasing and her perceptive nestling in the song’s sweet spots making every moment count. In her vocal choices, Bond consistently reveals an intelligence that is understated, but hard to miss. With far less intricacies to maneuver through, she massages “Think Twice” and “Never Was” with a breezy beauty that a heavier voice would have made leaden. Her ample experience on backgrounds shines on every harmonic arrangement with voices rivaling Incognito and the Jones Girls on cuts like “5:35.” Always appearing to glide over her subtle melodies, Bond is gifted at working hard without ever showing a seam.

If Bond’s skill as a professional songstress wasn’t worthy enough of eternal respect, she pulls off the coup of the century by excavating the M.I.A. cult legend Lewis Taylor, who hasn’t been heard on a new recording since 2006, and then goes toe-to-toe with the eccentric star for every vocal riff, run and growl. The always pristine-voiced Taylor pulls a ferocity out of Bond on the track that would be nice to hear more of from the usually unflappable chanteuse. Warm and more blood-beating than the album’s cooler illustrations, the mid-tempo guitar and percussion bumper is both a tease and a joy, leaving drooling listeners ravenous for more from this thoroughly edible duet.

A cousin to the music of Foreign Exchange minus that band's melodrama, the hybrid Madame Palindrone fuses ‘90s acid jazz and ‘80s new age dance music with elements of modern day chillout, lounge, and progressive soul to create a series of briskly paced, though never rushed sonic moving pictures. The lockstep Third Logic musicians sacrifice themselves to mood and tempo, making only the most muted of individual impressions, like the discreet latin percussion and light spectral effects closing “Say It” or the fleeting bass, violins, and strings accenting “Highest Mountain,” all to moving effect. It is unobtrusive, atmospheric music that cannot help but light a candle, pour a glass, and set a seductive mood without ever being unseemly. Lyrically sound with less than obvious - but nonetheless compelling - choruses, Bond is more storyteller than hook-meister. Though a lack of singularity plagues Bond’s profile as a signature soloist, the overall quality, impressive technique, and humble talent rolling through Madame Palindrone raises Deborah Bond to a circle of other elite, independent ladies who’ve made strong careers of riding urbane grooves, including: Julie Dexter, Conya Doss, and Amel Larrieux. Welcome to the big leagues, Madame Bond. Recommended.   

By L. Michael Gipson

 

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