Slow All Over, the debut album from eclectic musician Brian Harding's new project Blond Ambition, is a laser-focused work filled with danceable moments of percussive, head-nodding rhythmic bombast paired with catchy synth and guitar-laden hooks, deliberate and slow-burning pace, and subtly emotive melody. Despite its considerate influence from the broad and open-minded style of world-beat, the album is complete in its vision and scope, a tight and sexy affair fully realized by Harding and created almost entirely in his new home of Los Angeles.
Blond Ambition takes respectful cues from the early disco/dance/avant-garde downtown scene of 1970s and '80s New York, the pastiche-sampling art rock of bands like World Party and Big Audio Dynamite, and even the Grateful Dead. Harding also cites his stint as a bartender in an NYC nightclub for exposing him to the house and dance scenes that changed the way he looks at making music.
The percussive, kitchen sink catchiness of "Shasta" sets the mood early, with Harding crooning over sunny, almost tropical hooks reminiscent of Here My Dear era Marvin Gaye. The fuzzed-out tone and jangly verses of "Houses of Reason" build confidently into a rock-solid piece of songwriting with its assured refrain of "We got everything we needed/It's a funny way to get there," and despite the song's defined structure its "jam" qualities never drift. There's no template at play here, but the intention remains precise.
The album takes bittersweet U-turns with tracks like "Lights," a delicately tinged nod to Van Morrison and Nico; while the electronic, blipping climb of "F.S.I." takes us on a lo fi cruise through an abandoned Circuit City. And with the narrative content of songs like "Stupid Boy/Girl" and "Confused 4EVR," it's clear that Harding is delving into the truly personal for perhaps the first time.