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BELLA HARDY - With The Dawn

BELLA HARDY - With The Dawn
Noe Records NOE08

This seventh solo album is essentially an intimate and emotional sequence of original self and jointly penned songs produced by and with Ben Seal (credited with the ‘programming’ that is so vital to the mood rich soundscapes of the music) who, apparently, ‘cracked open the shell, demanded the truth, and stuck with me through it all to create this beautiful creature’. Harrowingly haunted by heartbreak, the ‘year of touring and tumult’ from which the songs arose was certainly no annus mirabilis!

The other instruments accompanying Bella’s voice and fiddle are banjo, drums, trombone, trumpet, flugelhorn and tuba. Ben’s contribution is fundamental, however, in engineering a deeply atmospheric backdrop that uses a very contemporary and ambient range of rhythmic patterns, noises and sounds into which the banjo and brass in particular are woven in a very distinctively modern way. The melancholy frailed refrains and echoey eeriness of the banjo are striking and there are some arrestingly atmospheric brass and piano settings for that enchantingly pure voice.

Reminding me again of Judie Tzuke in her vocal timbre (and musical settings too including the use of layered vocal tracking) on several songs, some of the richly textured musical tapestry also brings to mind the sophisticated arrangements of Josefine Cronholm’s work. In songs often fairly free in their phrasing and with arrangements admirably suited to the mood movement of her pleasingly poetic lyrics, Bella’s skill in conveying and expressing emotions is again very ably demonstrated. This is another finely crafted and moving experiential presentation of stirring impact.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 107 of The Living Tradition magazine.