Joe Bourdet, Meadow Rock Review
Joe Bourdet is a California native, lover of mountains, and stepping backward to move forward with an affinity for songwriting and capturing music with vintage equipment. Bourdet has a musical style that harkens strongly to the early to mid-70s folk-rock and singer/songwriter era. The sound is also described as the Laurel Canyon sound, although some know it sounds more like Topanga Canyon. Bourdet’s vocals are humble, unaltered, untrained, and, if the feel and vibe demand, not adverse to straying from perfect intonation. The guitar is Bourdet’s primary instrument, and he strives to capture the acoustics with natural ambiance where possible, with clarity and realism. His electric guitar sounds and influences include various heroes of melodic guitar; George Harrison, Joe Walsh, Duane Allman, and David Lindley. This all culminates into a creative folk-rock sound with a classic vibe while still relating to today’s times and subjects. Bourdet will be releasing his debut album titled Meadow Rock on June 18, 2021.Bottom Line: Meadow Rock finds the singer/songwriter crafting an optimistic and inviting set of songs brimming with natural beauty, but in total existential crisis, much like his home state of California as Bourdet is inspired from a place of contradictions. The album’s sound is very natural due to the careful attention to recording and mixing, which was primarily done by Bourdet in his home studio near Los Angeles, CA. He also created some of the basic tracks with his long-time collaborator and engineer, Jason Soda. The sonics are also well served by the female voices that support Bourdet, with Mimi Michel giving a country feel to the songs “El Capitan” and “Call You Friend,” and Alana Amram, who co-wrote “Lost Along the Way,” conjures the darker tones of The Mamas and The Papas. The rhythm sections are anchored variously by three distinctive drummers, the Memphis grooves of George Sluppick, the muted Nigel Olsson-Esque fills and firepower of Will Scott, and the flowing and creative folk-rock flourishes of Justin Smith. Long-time collaborator Brian Filosa chugs along joyously on bass on many of the songs as well. Besides singing, Bourdet can be heard on acoustic and electric guitars, Hammond Organ, slide guitar, high-strung guitar, piano, bass Fender 6, and Moog Rogue.
“Songbird Revisited” is the opening selection with an unrequited love theme where the protagonist feels a certain liberation from the realization of his lack of control over the natural world. The lyrics were written when Bourdet was in his early 20s and based on youth’s perspective. Bourdet explains, “I don’t think a romantic metaphor such as this would occur to someone older, or in the same language as used here. Easily the oldest composition on the Meadow Rock album, it was written in the iso-booth of the great Matchless Guitar Amplifier workshop in Westwood, CA. where I worked at the time.” A highlight of the song’s music occurs during the dual slide guitar solo played by guitarist/co-engineer Jason Soda and Bourdet, with both guitars going through a Leslie speaker. Bourdet’s insistence that little to no limiting be applied to the mixes or masters preserves the music’s micro-dynamics. It avoids the shallow depth and harsh artifacts of modern “industry standard” productions. “Unwritten Story” is Bourdet playing all the instruments and singing with Will Scott playing drums. The falsetto moments add lightness to the melody and uplift the tune. His backing vocals and counterpoint are rich with harmony, and instrument parts focus on support and clear themes. Overall, Meadow Rock is nine tracks that reflect an attention to detail in both songwriting and recording. This is a gem for fans of roots rock, Americana, and folk-rock. That’s the short of it!
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Amongst The Pines
Call You Friend
Lost Along The Way
June 18, 2021
Mountain Sounds Recorders