Machines & Dreams/Blumpco
It’s only May and I will hear a lot of music between now and December, but there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that Joe Hedges’ Curvature will sit proudly at the top of my 2007 best-of list come the year-end Ink19 polls.
The former July For Kings frontman’s debut solo record positively brims with the sort of bold, creative brush strokes notably absent from the majority of signed or unsigned acts in today’s homogenous music scene, and his departure from a commercial modern rock sound to a more ambient and left-of-center vibe has proved to be richly rewarding.
Acclaimed L.A. producer Blumpy took a chance on backing Hedges’ vision when the major labels would not and the end result is an album of such depth and beauty that it’s almost impossible to find enough superlatives to do it justice. And if you think such gushing praise is over the top, one listen to the beautiful “Futureflies,” the epic “Perseus” or the haunting closing ballad “Pray The Stars” should convince you otherwise.
Not surprisingly, Hedges’ new material shares July For King’s innate sense of melody, but only the punchy opener “Wake Up” is remotely similar to his past musical endeavors. Instead, a combination of diverse instrumentation and inspired songwriting characterize Hedges’ new direction, principally demonstrated on the superb “White Bird” and the innovative "Mitral Valve Prolapse."
Above all else, Curvature has allowed the wildly creative artist that lay within Joe Hedges to step outside of a constricting band environment and express himself in a way that is as unexpected as it is successful.