Crushed Velvet Underground
Bambi Lee Savage is billed around the internet as “the music industry’s best kept secret.” While that may be so, her claims to fame are mostly connected to her previous occupation as an audio engineer and assistant – so it’s no surprise that her latest record Darkness Overshadowed is well produced. What keeps Bambi underground is likely her style, which is trapped in a bizarre time capsule.
Back in her engineering days, Ms. Savage worked on U2’s Achtung Baby. This lead to several key connections for her career as a performing artist – most notably producer Daniel Lanois, who helped place her song “Darlin’” on the Sling Blade soundtrack in 1995. Though a label nibble and negotiation began during this time, things never panned out, and Ms. Savage has been releasing records independently for about a decade.
While the sounds on Darkness Overshadowed are clean, the record still feels almost uncomfortably indie – like a demo straight out of someone’s parents’ garage. Both the electric and acoustic guitar sounds feel deeply ensconced in the early ’90s; like some sort of off-kilter homage to Sonic Youth or The Breeders. Opening track “Easy Way,” sounds like straight-up Veruca Salt, and by the time “Take Me Down” rolls around, you might as well dig up your flannel and hemp necklaces just to join the groove. “Good Advice,” is still living in the past, but the creepy vibe and vocal effects are much like early Poe (as in “Angry Johnny” Annie Danielewski – not Edgar Allen), which is sort of exciting.
While a return to the good ol’ days of real instrumentation, thoughtful songcraft and smart lyrics would be very welcome, Darkness Overshadowed is not quite hitting the mark, because it doesn’t speak to now. Throwbacks, nods and homages are wonderful, but for Ms. Savage finally climb out of the underground, a more contemporary effort would be worthwhile. But perhaps that was not the goal, and this is the kind of record meant to be quietly shared with appreciative friends. On cassette.