8. B.E.D. Baxter Dury, Étienne De Crécy and Delilah Holliday (Heavenly)
There is no excess fat on Baxter Dury albums. On last year's 'Prince of Tears' release, the story teller is introduced as an obnoxious so and so in a state of denial about a collapsing relationship, but twenty eight minutes later as the story concludes, he's a humbled, cracked-voice, shadow of his former self. Along the way, fellow vocalists Rose Elinor Dougall and Madelaine Hart get to play the blunt and weary ex. As the vocal to and fro's took place, it felt like you were being privy to their conversations, as if the relationship was disintegrating right in front of you.
B.E.D. is an even shorter encounter than 'Prince of Tears' (nine songs in just under twenty minutes), this time Delilah Holliday (of London based punk band Skinny Girl Diet), gets to share the vocals and, oddest of all, French electronica and dance DJ/ musician/ producer Étienne De Crécy provides all of the music. It's a peculiar combination of talents but the synergy between them is a revelation.
The songs reveal tales of an (apparently real), affair à Paris. But even from the start, ('Tais Toi') our debauched narrator is aware of his own bad behaviour, with Holliday coolly laying out the implications of the liaison. De Crécy's soundtrack is danceable but detatched. It lays the foundation for much of what is to follow.
Holliday is brilliantly bittersweet on the House infused 'Walk Away' and the forlorn 'Fly Away'. Dury is cynical and sarcastic on the biting 'Only My Honesty Matters' ('...impotent white obvious people with shocking clothes and awful music'), but it's the remorse of the closing 'Eurostar' that kicks hardest. Set to the sound of a sorrowful piano, Dury ruefully reflects on what's left after the affair. It's unflinching honesty is wounding ('...partisan as you always are, your face betrays all the lies'). You feel the loneliness and it hurts.
B.E.D may be a side project, but it's essential listening for anyone who was ensnared by Dury's confessional style on 'Prince of Tears'. It's a brief encounter and a beautiful affair.