By: Ben Norman
So it’s been eight years since Daniel Bedingfield last released an album. That’s a long time between albums- a lot of time to ruminate on your sound. This isn’t the happy pep of a 22-year old’s “Gotta Get Thru This,” nor is it the Second First Impression that came 3 years later. This is the musical offering of a man in his 30s, a man who has watched his sister (Natasha Bedingfield) overwhelm the world with her music. Bedingfield is an artist who has suffered both physical trauma and attention struggles (through ADHD). These things all culminate with a more aware, musically ambitious artist who brings to us the first of a series of EPs, Stop the Traffik – Secret Fear. Half of the title of the EP is a reference to the Stop The Traffik organization, whose aims include bringing an end to human trafficking. While one may call this multi-EP approach to releasing new music as difficult or unattainable, don’t forget that Robyn’s wildly successful Body Talk series was also released in a series of 3 EPs.
Daniel’s first glimmer of new music came in the form of “Rocks Off,” a gutsy percussion-based minute-long track that will undoubtedly have you tapping your foot and regretting its short length. This is a clear example of how an affliction such as ADHD can be both a blessing and a curse to the musical process. Daniel had a stray thought, saw it recorded in its brief entirety, and moved onto the next thing. “Rocks Off” is a lot of fun, and indicative of the kind of musical maturity we can come to expect from the artist, along with the B-side that was originally released with the track, “It’s Not Me, It’s You.” There’s a theme in his writing as well, as Bedingfield seems bent on verbally attacking, or at least blaming, the source of his emotional trouble. “Rocks Off” accuses the subject of wanting to do just one thing, while “It’s Not Me, It’s You” stresses to the subject that Bedingfield really isn’t the cause of a separation, he is merely reacting to the unpleasant stimuli in the only way he knows how – ending things. And he does it to a rather impressive march beat that can either march its way into your head or translate wonderfully to the dance floor. This slant carries on in “O.V.E.R. U.,” the undeniable winner for catchiest track on the EP. A punchy beat leads us into overlapping vocals, Daniel spelling “OVER” behind a series of evidential points that proves he’s over his subject now. The drama and tension in the track make the emotional breaking point that much sweeter, and I have to wonder why no one has gotten this track broken on radio yet.
Daniel also has his reservations. In the opening track, “Secret Fear,” Daniel worries that, even though he has moved on, he will always carry this torch, this longing for the woman who hurt him so badly. That he won’t be able to sleep without her. This is a touching track that swaps between simple, quiet moments and heavier, guitar and percussion-driven periods which seem to represent the whirl of emotional confusion that comes along with regretting letting someone go. And in the closing track, “Don’t Write Me Off,” just as easily as Daniel could be singing to someone who let HIM go, he could also be begging for someone’s forgiveness for his decision, asking them to take his heart back, that it’s right and should continue. This track is soft, melodic, and orchestral, featuring piano as the only percussion instrument. Music like this and lyrics delivered in this potent way have yielded excellent dance tracks in the past, especially with Max Graham’s “Gone,” which was based on a haunting melody by Jessica Riddle. But additionally, Daniel seems to be singing to you, the listener, asking you to let him back in. He knows he’s been gone a while, but don’t write him off, especially as he has two more EP releases left in this series.
I am nothing short of thrilled with the first 5 tracks in this series. The level of growth that is apparent in these tracks makes for an exceptional listen, especially considering how much Bedingfield is not bowing down to the oppressive force of the mainstream. There is not a single featured performer on these tracks, nor is any track a pulsating, pounding club number. While each track has immense remix potential, they all stand as solid pop tracks with electronic elements, save for “Don’t Write Me Off” as mentioned earlier. So this is both a strong reemergence onto the scene and proclamation to expect something different and new this go around. It’s been 8 years since Daniel Bedingfield last released an album. Get ready.
Released April 2012 by UHT Productions.