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Chicago-based singer-songwriter Andrew Belle, recently unwrapped his second full length album, Black Bear.  The ten-track collection is awash in atmosphere and does have a “soundtrack-style” feel in many of the songs – it should be noted that his songs have been placed in television shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Castle.  The production is high-quality tech which makes the overall sound even more interesting.  The songs themselves, however, as well-constructed, melodic and well-produced are something that sound over-familiar, thus making them less interesting than they should be.  I don’t like drawing comparisons here, but the dirge-like feel of the two opening tracks, “Dark Matter” and “Pieces” remind me too much of Coldplay (especially “Pieces”).  Mr. Belle’s vocals also sound like Chris Martin – while there is “passion” in the delivery, there is no emotion in the feel.  The lyrics are hard to hear and makes it something of a frustrating exercise.  The best track is possibly “Santa Fe”, which has an ’80’s-type of groove.

Aurally, there’s much to like – again, this album sounds great – looks great – and is well-thought out.  But the execution of the songs lack “life” and human warmth.  They’re too cold and clinical.  Mr. Belle obviously has talent as a singer and a songwriter; I hope that going forward, his songs are stripped back a little so you can hear him sing without so much processing and effects – overall, a disappointment.

http://andrewbelle.com/home/