Album Review – Happy Again - Bill and the Belles – 2021
This week we continue our exploration of the slightly surreal side of Folk because, why the hell not! Stepping into the spotlight we have Bill and the Belles with their new album Happy Again. The artist themselves are:
Kris Turelsen on Guitar and Vocals
Kalia Yeagle on Fiddle and Vocals
Aidan Vansuetendael on the Banjo, Banjo Ukulele and Vocals
Andrews Small on Bass
The first thing that strikes me is the style of the sound, a throwback to the 1930's string bands but as fresh as a mornings breeze. I was reminded a bit of She & Him, a band I'm quite a big fan of, there is the humour there as well.
As you may know by now if you read my rambling regularly, I like to play an album a few times before I write about it. This is why it can take a while if life goes mad, which on these Isles it does a lot. Anyhow, that said, on my first listen I was busy doing farming stuff (planning a new quail house), so I was quite happily tapping my foot along not really focusing on the words until midway through the 'The Corn Shuckin' Song', when it suddenly dawned on me I had no idea what they where singing about even though I was loving the song and was quiet happily clapping along to it.
So a quick coffee and a ginger snap hustled up, back to track one, only this time I paid more attention to what was being sung about from the off. So kicking off with 'Happy Again (I'll Never Be)', My god, I love it, is the first thing that came to mind. A happy cheerful veneer gleaming over the top but have a little scratch at the surface and it's quite a bleak story being told. Yet, it's done in such a quirky tongue-in-cheek way, I couldn't help but smile.
This is the best way to describe this album; it's a light-hearted look at some tough times in the lives of the band, from love to loss. It's done is an entertaining and engaging way as well, having you dancing and singing along even when you know the subject of the dark lyrics.
Bill and the Belles are able to mix the traditional with the contemporary, bringing the string band feel to a modern audience as well as a joyous atmosphere, something much needed right now. It's an album that will also stand the test of time, in a few years, you will still find as much fun within the stories as you do in this instant.
It's not all doom and gloom story-wise either; some of it, such as 'Bye, Bye Bill' or the aforementioned 'The Corn Shuckin' Song', are not just electrifying but they are bat-shit crazy. 'Happy Again' is a bright, fun and rousing album well worth your time. Check it out for yourself and put a smile on your face.
Happy Again is out now on all good streaming services or grab a proper copy from the artist's shop on their website.
A huge thank you to Devon Léger from HearthPR / Free Dirt Records & Service Co for the review copy.
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