Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Delta Bell - Bow Out of the Fading Light : At The Helm Records

They say you shouldn’t judge a book (or album) by its cover. Yet if there is an image so symbolic to the content then the one adorning the sleeve of the new album by The Delta Bell heads all comers. The solitary pose of Kate Gerrard, the sparseness of a pale room and its sole possession of a turntable provide the perfect backdrop to a record that oozes with stripped back, unconditional organic class. BOW OUT OF THE FADING LIGHT is the debut release from Kate who adds mystique to the record with her implicit stage name and is set to project her wave of roots sensibility across the discerning ears of intelligent music followers.

A magnetic and warming sound reverberates around all eleven self-penned tracks from Kate who has adeptly assembled a fine team of players to complement her homely vocals and soothing songs. Whether utilising the harmonious sound of the harmonium, the magical twang of pedal steel guitar or the more luxurious string offerings of violin and cello, each selection adds vibrancy and life to track after track making this a record which refuses to leave your player, turntable or other device dependent on your preferred listening medium.

Of course this contemporary link to a misty eyed past is ideally suited to the vinyl format as depicted on the cover and is perfectly exhibited in two tracks that emerge as co-firsts among equals. ‘Wasted’ is a jolly rolling pedal steel infused number with a positive persona disguising the sad sentiments of a parting song. It is a song that has emerged as the focal point of the album, but is given a great run in the race for top track by the unashamedly retro pop piece ‘Forever Yours’, sweetly flavoured by fabulous numerous ‘sha la las’ and memories of a bygone age where the music of the masses was seemingly untainted.

Portions of the album and the ensemble’s name offer up Americana connotations, but there is an idyllic Englishness richly running through the record. This is no more in evidence than the harmonium intro to the opening track ‘Carry Me Home’ which leads into an emotive number possessing all the endearing features of a gospel piece. This is immediately followed by a cello led adorable ballad titled ‘Phosphorus’ which has had previous exposure on one of the Fatea Showcase Sessions. The first half of the album contains another dose of harmonium on the nautical feel to the dreamy and slightly eerie track ‘Of Mist’. Like so many of the songs, Kate’s melting vocals resonate perfectly with the keen ear and conjure up images of music in its most simplest and evocative form.

Elsewhere steel returns to add more country spice to ‘I’ve Seen the Way’, while brass offers an alternative slant to the opening of ‘Churches’. ‘The second half of the album is anchored by the repetitive splendour of ‘Lay Him Down’ and the acoustic ballad ‘Until the Night’ is an ideal choice to close the record with a climactic feel to it, while leaving the door open to what next Kate has to offer next. ‘Every Tonight’, possessing a heady mix of violin and glockenspiel, is a spritely number at the core of the record, while ‘Strings’ wraps up the album’s content and goes a long way to symbolising the creative simplicity that accompanies the 41 minute listening time.

BOW OUT OF THE FADING LIGHT is a record embedded with excellence, occasionally aches, often soothes but always impresses. It has the drive of alt-country and lure of iconic pop. In essence it brings the talents of The Delta Bell to the fore and the music environment is a better place for its presence.

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