Bernadette Seacrest embodies all of the most alluring qualities of a femme fatale lifted from the pages of a pulp crime novel. When asked about her past, she only hints at some trouble that went down in Albuquerque before she skipped town and “followed her heart to Atlanta.” And it is no small metaphor that when she parted ways with her former New Mexico bandmates in the Yes Men, they changed their name to the Bitter Sermon.
Now, settled alongside guitarist Charles Williams and bassist Kris Dale, Seacrest fronts a trio that was recently christened Bernadette Seacrest & Her Provocateurs. The group plays a sultry, loungey blend of dark jazz that fuels the cool voice of the torchy and tattooed seductress. Indeed, she bears the marks of an old-school rockabilly gal risen above the trashy travails of club life, arriving on a perch that swings far above the maddening crowd. “I’m kind of a sad girl,” she says. “I like slow, sparse music and I like to sing songs that rip your heart out.”
Though most of the group’s material is penned by Williams, Seacrest’s former Yes Man Pat Bova continues writing material for her as well. “They both know me very well and are able to write music that I can get into and own,” she adds. And the equation would be imbalanced if not for her distinct and siren-like croon.
The Provocateurs’ sound sways through a bottom-heavy whirr, evoking mystery and melancholy. Most of Seacrest’s repertoire is rooted in 1950s noir sounds, and it’s not uncommon to hear the group snake through a rendition of “Fever” before easing into a haunted rearrangement of “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails. “The tunes are authentically a part of my soul,” she adds. “Singing them is better than any drug.”