Album Review: Bermuda Report EP

Bermuda Report

Abbie Sawyer (formerly of the Diplomats of Solid Sound) is the lead singer of Iowa City band Bermuda Report. Abbie left the Diplomats in 2008 to pursue a Master’s program in New Zealand. She came back home and in May of this year started working with the band that would become Bermuda Report. Supporting Sawyer in Bermuda Report are Paul Kresowik (from the Diplomats and his own band Local Clamor) on drums, Billy LeGrand (in Local Clamor with Kresowik) on guitars, Jeremiah Murphy (OSG Band, Public Property) on bass and Nick Leo (Brooks Strause & the Gory Details, Salsa Vibe) on Hammond B5 and Rhodes.

The band released a five-track EP that they consider to be the jumping-off point for upcoming live shows and plans for a full album release in 2011. I don’t know the genesis of the band’s name but between the dreamy cover art of Sawyer in the sun and the warm trade winds of jazz mixing with the cool night blues it accompanies, Bermuda Report easily evokes the idea of a recounting of a vacation in the tropics.

The short trip kicks off with a fun, calypso-time cover of “After Laughter,” originally done in 1964 by Stax/Volt artist Wendy Rene. But it’s the following track–a re-work of the Diplomats’ “Smokey Places”–that is one of the high points of the EP for me. The song is transformed from its former R&B gospel-influenced commandment to a sultry smokey blues confessional. “I just strut and I walk–can I cozy up to you?” becomes a more subtle flirt in this version.

Another standout is “Tension” which started life as an instrumental in past Kresowik bands and is re-invented by Bermuda Report as a five-minutes-plus building torch song of frustration, convincingly carried by Sawyer, climaxing with the release of “I’m in a bind / help me unwind / I’m going to love again. I’m on my knees begging you, PLEASE!”

Sawyer told me that she’s enjoying “dipping a toe into the abyss upon abyss of ideas, sounds and lovely people to share them with.” I, for one, am ready to follow her into the warm waters of Bermuda Report.

This EP is available as a free download from the Bermuda Report Bandcamp site