Come January I need a bit of breezy pop in my life. Alabama band Belle Adair write blissful and swirling rock tunes that swarm out of the stereo and into the ear, all with a gentle jangle to them. A band named after a sunken ship in Steinbeck’s Winter of Our Discontent, they sound anything but miserable. They jump between honied acoustics and fizzing distortion, from jangling keys to bolshy electric guitar, lacing it all together with meditative melodies and lyrics.
Underpinning it all is a sense of expansive skies, big ideas to be grappled with. It’s been nearly five years since Belle Adair released their debut album, The Brave and the Blue, but it’s not been a quiet time for the group. There have been a few life changes for the band in recent months, and they seek to explore those life questions on the album. Titled after the Alabama town where frontman Matthew Green lived while he wrote much of the album, Tuscumbia is rich with California country sounds, but also nods to sixties classics and even vintage Britpop. Recorded at Muscle Shoals’ legendary FAME Studios with Wilco producer/engineer Tom Schick, they’ve managed to combine retro jangle with modern rocking into a beguiling formula.
They’re a tight knit bunch, and their craft well honed. Matthew Green, lead vocalist and writer heads up the band and the album, whilst Adam Morrow lends his guitar and supporting vocals. The bounce of the melodies is kept in check by Hayden Crawford on bass, and Reed Watson’s drumming lends vitalic rhythm.
Managing to traverse the line between grandly expansive and tenderly intimate, the eleven songs on Tuscumbia are as introspective as they are exuberant. “Love is such a lonely notion,” is the conclusion on ‘Long Fade Out.’ ‘Neptune City’ conjures up visions of a seaside town shuttered for the winter as Green asks, “How was I supposed to let you in?” Confessional tones abound on ‘The Absentee’ as Green sings “Try as you might to see / What you need in me / I’m the absentee,” ,’ whilst ‘Phantom Beach’ is an explorative and driving tune.
Chiming and breezy, the album feels more blissed out than existential crisis, those large life lessons always being countered by everyday happenings. There’s an alchemy to it all. A short album at less than forty minutes, we’re soon at the end of a dreamy sounding record, with final track ‘Rest Easy’, and ready for it all to start again.
Tuscumbia is released on 19th January through Single Lock Records.