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.


About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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