Andrew Belle – Black Bear
1L Music/Elm City Music
Release Date – August 20th 2013
Recommended if you like: Ben Rector, Paper Route, Coldplay
Very rarely do you see an artist completely reinvent their sound with tremendous success. Many artists grow their sound, showing maturity with a couple albums and countless tour stops in half-filled bars. But do many artists completely change their sound after just one full-length album under their belt? Andrew Belle is hoping to change that perception with the release of Black Bear.
Although Andrew Belle may not be a household name, it’s hard to imagine you aren’t familiar with some of his music. In fact, Belle has had songs featured in “The Real World,” “Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Pretty Little Liars,” to name just a few. The favorite song for TV, “In My Veins,” was a piano and acoustic guitar driven ballad that set the tone for what was to come from his first full-length record The Ladder. However, a lot has changed since Belle wrote the debut album over 4 years ago. Now a married man, this coming of age has played a significant role in his maturity both emotionally as well as spiritually. In an interview with Noisetrade, Belle speaks about the new record when he says, “the most consistent and overarching theme found in this album is that of a God that pursues a man until he inevitably succumbs to his persistence.”
It should come as fair warning to former listeners that this album sounds dramatically different from anything Belle has previously released. Gone are the days of acoustic guitars, occasional banjos, and bare piano chords. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find a song that could have ever made its way onto his previous album. Belle has done some very precise surgery with the reinvention of his composition. Instead of wasting time trying to compare the two incomparable records, it would only be fair to Belle if we consider this record on its own merits.
It’s clear to see that this album is loaded with one catchy song after another. The lead single “Pieces” is an epic song, with its driving percussion and heavy synth bass leading you through each turn and guiding you into the new style. In the chorus, the song picks up as Belle sings in octaves, “There’s too much smoke to see it/ There’s too much broke to feel this/ Well I love you, I love you/ And all of your pieces.” Whether it’s the unexpected synth solo after the chorus in “Sister,” the driving drums in “Details,” or the ethereal backdrop of “I Won’t Fight It,” this record is brimming with songs you’ll be excited to put on repeat.
Even with the stark change in musical composition, you can definitely tell this was not an undertaking Belle decided on overnight. With four years of demoing and a methodical songwriting process, it’s fair to say that Belle has evolved and made a record to be proud of both musically and lyrically.