Bendrix Littleton
Deep Dark South


3.5
great

Review

by Mathias CONTRIBUTOR (46 Reviews)
September 28th, 2020 | 39 replies


Release Date: 09/25/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A different image of the South.

Deep Dark South, the debut solo album from Bendrix Littleton (real name: Bennet Littlejohn), has potential to be very, very boring. He creates a unique bond between country and lo-fi, with not-quite-sung, not-quite-whispered vocals that are mostly backed by some acoustic guitar, synth arrangements, and fuzzy guitar that mimics a watered-down shoegaze. The entire album is a low-energy affair, with the vocal delivery never changing, the tempo never really changing, and every song giving off the same “laissez-faire depression” vibe. However, Littleton manages to power through and put the album on the right side of captivating, largely due to the emotional weight it carries and some clever production tricks that would typically go entirely unnoticed.

There’s nothing on Deep Dark South that hasn’t been discussed before - Addiction and alcoholism, heartbreak, death, helplessness, etc. This isn’t meant to dampen the weight of these topics, but songs about them are easy to come by, especially in country music. Littlejohn even says himself on his Bandcamp that “It’s well-trod ground, but I'd rather write what feels genuine rather than something foreign for the sake of novelty.” And each of these topics certainly feel genuine coming from the artistry of Littlejohn. He can sing basic lines like “If I spent my whole damn life / Living with half the light / You put off in your life / I’d die happy.” on “Clark” and have it carry extra emotional weight, even if it isn’t sung with any additional emphasis. The lack of emphasis and variety in vocals actually works incredibly well in creating the sense of loneliness that exists throughout the whole record. You can close your eyes and picture yourself alone on a front porch gazing into the vast expanse of the stars as the words “I’ve seen heaven / It was red wine on ice” pass by during the title track. The constant tension between peace, loneliness, and the other emotions haunting Littlejohn makes Deep Dark South a gripping listen, and this tension wouldn’t exist if more frills and flourishes existed. Deep Dark South doesn’t take up any more space than it needs to. These compositions appear simple at first, but Littlejohn knows precisely where to add additional accompaniment to ensure that emotional beats are hit.

Part of that is due to clever editing by Littlejohn. Most tracks on the album were ran through a Tascam four track cassette recorder, speeding them up and raising the pitch ever so slightly. Not only does this put the album at a crisp 28 minutes, it also sharpens the album without sacrificing artist integrity. The outro at the end of the title track would have likely ruined much of the pacing if it remained at its original speed, while the instrumental track “Bud Light Flows Like Water” would have overstayed its welcome. Standout track “Daylight Curls”, a track that is equal amounts love song and anxious reckoning with alcohol abuse, would have likely lost the magic that comes from the twinkling of its guitar line, ending with those guitars becoming almost sinister as they grow and drown out Littleton’s voice. The one song that seems to not get this sped-up treatment is “Wine”, where Littleton’s true baritone breaks through and, when mixed with a steady drumbeat and electric guitar, provides a needed change in sound in the penultimate track.

Deep Dark South is equal parts gentle, dreamlike, and dark. If this balance didn’t exist, the album likely would fail and fall into the trap of being described as “boring”. Instead, these three descriptors weave an intricate dance around the simplicity of Littlejohn’s compositions and lyrics, making it an inviting listen that can create a pleasant background sound that, when focused on, becomes so much more. Deep Dark South shows that simple doesn’t need to mean boring, and that simple can certainly be deceptive.



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user ratings (12)
3.3
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
dmathias52
Contributing Reviewer
September 28th 2020


1457 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've fallen asleep to this the past few nights, and I mean that in the best way.

The summary isn't really tied to the review at all, but I liked the line and couldn't fit it in. Any feedback is much appreciated!

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MotokoKusanagi
September 28th 2020


3435 Comments


song i listened to was really good but i can't seem to find a dl for this anywhere as of now

Digging: D.K. - The Ancient Kingdom

dmathias52
Contributing Reviewer
September 28th 2020


1457 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I know it's on Spotify and Bandcamp, not sure where else it might be

SowingSeason
Moderator
September 28th 2020


36054 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Glad to see you reviewed this. I was really intrigued by the singles and can't wait to check this out.

Digging: Bendrix Littleton - Deep Dark South

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
September 28th 2020


12035 Comments


Very nice review, sounds like a captivating mix. The lack of vocal variety/a very uninspired vocal delivery still sounds like a tough sell despite how fitting it could be. This writing does the album proper justice though, well done.

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DadKungFu
September 28th 2020


867 Comments


The fact that a bunch of country albums have been getting featured on this site has been one of the highlights of this shitty-ass year.

Evok
September 28th 2020


8217 Comments


Bendridix Countrypatch you say? Colour me intrigued

Digging: The Who - Live In Hyde Park

WatchItExplode
September 28th 2020


8311 Comments


Probly served as it turn off to many but that opening paragraph has me intrigued about this.

Storm In A Teacup
September 28th 2020


30738 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Just listened to this and I'm ready to rant lol. This album has a cool background lo fi setting to it but it's also quite a mess in places. Choir drags on and Smoke should have been turned into a full song with at least two whole new sections of music added to it. Deep Dark south has a really cool sound to it, but completely exposes the vocalist as someone who doesn't put in enough effort on vocal parts, it's just half baked. Backwards is alright as an intro to Clark but the two could have served better as the first two songs of the album, but Clark still suffers from the vocal performance or maybe lack thereof a vocal performance. Bud Light Flows like water is completely useless. As someone who is subscribed to a lot of lofi youtube channels I hear music from this genre on a daily basis and these clearly are a lot of songs that weren't ready to be shaped into an album. The rest of the album goes through the motions but at least Bedroom tries to close things out better than most of the album went.

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Lord(e)Po)))ts
September 28th 2020


60334 Comments


Bendrick Lamar

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Storm In A Teacup
September 28th 2020


30738 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

This is nowhere close to being any kind of country music either, just saw the comparisons and there's no explanation for how that can make sense.

TallPines
September 28th 2020


7 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

The album title immediately evokes my fondness for Secret South by 16 Horsepower. This is not in the same league at all however; there's just too little going on with the songwriting with none of the passages being particularly memorable or catchy.



Agree with the post above regarding the lack of similarities to country. I would categorize this more as some form of soft indie rock / folk. Anyways, doesn't really matter.

dmathias52
Contributing Reviewer
September 29th 2020


1457 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I agree with pretty much everything y'all have said actually. I definitely think there's a lot more potential in this and my first reaction was that it really didn't seem finished, with pretty much the exact same wording. The atmopshere really hooked me on repeated listens though, some of the rawness felt intentional. I didn't touch on it in the review, which was probably a mistake, but that's the main reason why this is sitting at a 3.5 instead of a 4. I'd also be curious to hear the unedited version to see if it feels more complete or like a slog (I would guess the latter)

I also agree and disagree with this not being country. It's 100% country influenced and that comes straight from the writer's mouth. With that being said, there's such a loose definition of country at this point (one of my musical pet peeves) that I totally agree that this doesn't sound like traditional country, but it fits a more modern definition. Definitely more "inspired by" than anything, but a song like Daylight Curls has super clear country influence.



Cygnatti
September 29th 2020


33677 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i'm interested

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naughtcturnal
September 29th 2020


1617 Comments


is this a harry potter character

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Cygnatti
September 29th 2020


33677 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this is like bedroom pop or indie folk, there's a very tiny tinge of country in most of the songs but it's almost not worth mentioning at all

Cygnatti
September 29th 2020


33677 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This is pretty cute, the arrangements are often pretty endearing but I can't say the songwriting and the vocals are very convincing. I'd be hard pressed to say this is good; it certainly isn't bad.

Daylight Curls has the worst vocal performance but has the best song structure, pacing, and musical progression. Prob the best song on the alb for me. Later half is much better in general tho.

Sunnyvale
September 29th 2020


1791 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review. I like this album after two listens, not all of it hits but there's a solid atmosphere created

SowingSeason
Moderator
September 29th 2020


36054 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

First impression of this was that it's pretty but ultimately forgettable. Probably a 3.5 for me but time will tell.

dbizzles
September 29th 2020


14404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This really hit the spot. Great review, too.



It's funny how I simultaneously think this could have all been more fleshed out and that it absolutely shouldn't have been. Love the synth, production, delivery, throughout. Had to put it on again right when it ended because I hadn't gotten enough, even though I got all I wanted.

Digging: Bendrix Littleton - Deep Dark South



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