Nursing a post-Eurovision hangover, I needed just the right music to survive my Monday morning. I found it in Beard of Bees, the fantastic fourth album from Jez Mead.
It’s amazing that this guy has been releasing albums for so many years, yet he hasn’t crossed my radar until now. It’s a case of better late than never though. This record is accessible yet rich, just like Jez’s voice. His bluesy rasp brings a depth to the stripped back songs. The raw delivery is perfect for creating an air of honesty and spontaneity; I imagine these songs wouldn’t sound very different if you saw them performed in your local pub. There’s that same electricity that you feel while listening to a live set, that impalpable feeling that anything could happen.
The tunes are an eclectic mix, yet the pieces fit together beautifully. The title track is a rollicking acoustic alt-country number. “Town’s Too Small” feels as if it could have been plucked straight from the Deep South, with its hand-clapping rhythm and swampy feel. As with anything that Julia Stone touches, the duet “Devil” is delicate and gorgeous. The tender closer “Crooked” is blessedly understated and lovely.
Beard of Bees is a lush, complex album that has quite simply cast a spell over me. If like me you’d never heard of Jez Mead, this should be the record to change all that. Beard of Bees will be released on June 25.