wears the trousers magazine

bif naked: the promise (2009)
July 29, 2009, 11:06 am
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , ,


Bif Naked
The Promise •••½
The Promise Music Group

The term ‘Bif’ is apparently used to describe a pathological liar. With regards to Miss Naked (real name Beth Torbert), this couldn’t be farther from the truth. As her adopted name may suggest, she is the songwriting champion of all that is largely stripped bare, much as her gutsy rock and roll would have us believe otherwise. Born to teenage parents in India in the early ’70s and subsequently adopted by American missionaries, she later wound up in Canada, most notably making a name for herself as a model-turned-actress and poet before reinventing herself as a vibrant performer and self-styled songstress. And it is the medium of music that she has particularly used to express her a batch of personal experiences as diverse as her talents, including a recent battle with breast cancer, during which she recorded The Promise, her fifth studio album.

Torbert’s honest approach to making music has impressed many a listener on the other side of the pond, particularly with 2005’s triumphant Superbeautifulmonster, and has seen her play on many a bill headed by commercial big-hitters (Foo Fighters, Sheryl Crow etc.) so it’s hardly surprising that her sound has maintained a chart-friendly edge. The Promise falls deftly into the pigeonhole of mainstream power-pop. Nowhere is this more apparent than on album opener, ‘Amazon Hotel’, aka what Pink might have sounded like if she’d had different colour hair when thinking of her stage name and gave production rights to Billy Corgan, or on the track to follow, ‘Crash & Burn’, a song so anthemic and raw that it could easily have been written by Mr Grohl himself.

Both these songs adhere to a simple formula, which Torbert sticks to doggedly throughout the album. Attitude oozes from every note, in some cases transforming the 38 year old into an angry teenager – a standout example being ‘Fuck You 2’, a weirdly intoxicating nod to ’50s girl band nostalgia with a Less Than Jake twist that touches on the subject of bisexual relationships. For fans of slightly less clichéd singalong choruses, ‘Honeybee’ is resplendent and features a great impersonation of, yes, a bee. Elsewhere, the laidback reggae of ‘River Of Fire’ is akin to a young Elvis Costello until it launches into an onslaught of big guitar riffery again. Though the instrumentation seems designed to threaten to drown out any sense that Torbet might not be such a tough cookie after all, the often personal lyrics offer a glimpse into the woman beneath the seemingly hard exterior.

With Torbert’s influences clear and unabashed, The Promise isn’t a particularly original or diverse release, but, somewhat paradoxically, it may appeal to those who admire strength of individuality and character in their music. From what could be a faintly average collection of songs, Torbert somehow encapsulates the fighting spirit we all wish we had.

Anna Claxton
UK release date: 05/05/09; www.myspace.com/bifnaked


‘Fuck You 2’


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Her maiden name is TORBERT not “Torbet” lol

Comment by Marcina

Whoops, thanks!

Comment by Wears The Trousers magazine

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