Monday, November 22, 2010
Andrew Belle - The Ladder
Several months ago, I mentioned Andrew Belle, and I’m actually surprised it took me so long to get his debut album The Ladder. Sure there are tons of videos available via Youtube et al. that allow you to get a taste of the Nashville based Illinois native, but that’s actually doing yourself a disservice. From the initial verse of “The Ladder”, it was obvious that this wouldn’t be your average record. Belle’s debut is one of the strongest I’ve heard in some time. Belle’s songwriting is nuanced, unpredictable, and smart with vibrant, thoughtfully chosen words that heighten the already evocative quality of the lyrics. In fact, the weakest track on the album (“Tower”) is the only song not written by Belle himself. That’s not to say it’s bad, it’s actually quite good. Just stands alone; lacks the subtlety that Belle’s own lyrics demonstrate.
Sometimes you encounter good songwriting with musicianship that doesn’t quite fit but you’ll encounter none of that here. Each instrumental embellishment only adds to the tracks: an organic evolution from just guitar and vocals.
Andrew Belle’s debut is masterful enough to give even the most experienced songsmiths a run for their money. The album is catchy without being hokey or artificial, sincere in a way that other singer/songwriters should take note of, and memorable for only the right reasons. Interestingly enough, the album starts off as this thoroughly interactive affair and gets more and more intimate as it progresses; hooking you in with poppy goodness before stripping that away to expose the raw talent at its foundation. The Ladder, shows a man who not only has practically limitless potential but also makes good choices: in collaborators, in arrangement, in track order. So if you’re interested in Andrew Belle, don’t be like me. Pick up The Ladder immediately. You’ll find that it’s the only thing that does him any justice.