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Andrew Belle — Black Bear (2013)

 Andrew Belle — Black Bear (2013)

Andrew Belle — Black Bear
   Chicago-based singer/songwriter started out in an indie folk vein but eventually took a decidedly more dreamy turn.
   "I love writing albums with a common thread, so it was my own notion or experience from a couple years back where I felt God was coming after me. It’s hard to explain and I don’t know what was going on, but I just couldn’t even resist it. In a lot of ways, I felt like I was being hunted down and sought after. [Laughs] So the whole black bear analogy is that pursuit." — Andrew Belle
Born: August 26, 1984
Location: Nashville, TN / Wheaton ~ Chicago, IL
Album release: August 20, 2013
Record Label: 1L Music/Music City
Duration:     47:21
01. Dark Matter      5:18
02. Pieces       4:01
03. Sister       5:17
04. Black Bear       5:11
05. Wants What It Wants       4:57
06. Details       3:49
07. Santa Fe       3:45
08. The Enemy       4:46
09. Many Lives       4:46
10. I Won't Fight It       5:31
Craig Alvin  Mixing
Andrew Belle  Additional Production, Composer, Primary Artist, Vocals
Brad Blackwood  Mastering
Butterfly Boucher  Vocals
Denise Bovee  Photography
Seth Cassel  Management
Chris Combs  Arranger
Chad Copelin  Bass, Composer, Engineer, Keyboards, Piano, Producer
Trent Dabbs  Composer
Thomas Doeve  Engineer
Jarod Evans  Additional Production, Guitar
Taylor Johnson  Guitar
Matt Leland  Trombone, Trumpet
James McAlister  Additional Production, Drums, Programming
Nico Mubly  Programming
Dustin Paige  Percussion
Ryan Tedder  Clarinet, Sax (Tenor)
Website: http://andrewbelle.com/
MySpace: https://myspace.com/andrewbelle
Twitter: https://twitter.com/andrewbelle
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/andrewbelle
Bandzone: http://andrewbelle.bandcamp.com/album/black-bear
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andrewbelle
Press: management@andrewbelle.com
Agent: Brian Jonas — brian@highroadtouring.com; +1 (415) 332-9292
INTERVIEW: By Matt Conner on August 19, 2013: http://stereosubversion.com/interviews/andrew-belle
   Andrew Belle divides his time between his hometown of Chicago and his adopted home of Nashville, a split that is reflected in his new sleekly produced sophomore album Black Bear (August 20, 1L Music/Music City). As expected, there are the well-crafted tunes that have earned Belle a spot alongside his contemporary Nashville songsmiths in the traveling songwriter cavalcade Ten Out Of Tenn. But Black Bear, produced by Chad Copelin, eschews the typical songwriter-with-an-acoustic aesthetic for a keyboard-and-synth centered sound reminiscent of Chris Martin's Coldplay anthems and the densely layered pop gems of Mat Kearney and Greg Laswell. Bear's tracks aren't the work of some sensitive and confessional coffee house folkie. These are rich and frothy concoctions that soar on perfectly tailored melodies and Belle's slightly-sanded vocals, swelling, synth-beat songs that occasionally take a left turn into some just-this-side-of-funky side streets (as on the bubbly "Santa Fe").
Written by Lee Zimmerman; August 15th, 2013 at 2:20 pm
Score: 3.5/5
   With songs that place equal emphasis on both attitude and ambiance, Black Bear provides a daunting first encounter. The fact that it’s only Belle’s second actual album makes that seem all the more impressive; indeed, after reaping the rewards of television exposure — his material has made its way to such highly rated shows as The Real World, Ghost Whisperer, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Grey’s Anatomy and The Vampire Diaries — he’s notched up quite an impressive track record in the scant five years since his debut.
   Even so, Belle’s obvious ambition does have its downside. A darkly furrowed ballad with an imposing title like “Dark Matter” seems a somewhat ominous way to open this album. “Pieces,” the track that follows, sounds just as sobering, thanks to its turgid undertow. In fact, Belle is so preoccupied with concocting his atmospheric arrangements — think Rufus Wainwright in cahoots with Coldplay — that several of these melodies barely manage to shine through the sheen.
   Happily though, Belle does redeem himself once he takes the filter off his emotions.    “Black Bear” comes across as supple and soothing once it’s stripped of extraneous trappings. A catchy keyboard riff and the shimmer and swirl of accompaniment accentuates the inherent appeal of “Many Lives.” “Sisters” is driven by a propulsive rhythm that continually casts an upward glance.
   Still, it’s hard to imagine Belle, who’s toured with the troupe known as Ten Out Of Tenn, presenting these songs armed only with an acoustic guitar. Yet given the overt complexity of these compositions, a bit less embellishment would seem to suffice. — Fortaken: http://www.americansongwriter.com/
By MatthewRMoore; August 19, 2013; Score: ****½
   Very rarely do you see an artist completely reinvent their sound with tremendous success. Many artists grow their sound, showing maturity with a couple albums and countless tour stops in half-filled bars. But do many artists completely change their sound after just one full-length album under their belt? Andrew Belle is hoping to change that perception with the release of Black Bear.
   Although Andrew Belle may not be a household name, it’s hard to imagine you aren’t familiar with some of his music. In fact, Belle has had songs featured in “The Real World,” “Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Pretty Little Liars,” to name just a few. The favorite song for TV, “In My Veins,” was a piano and acoustic guitar driven ballad that set the tone for what was to come from his first full-length record The Ladder. However, a lot has changed since Belle wrote the debut album over 4 years ago. Now a married man, this coming of age has played a significant role in his maturity both emotionally as well as spiritually. In an interview with Noisetrade, Belle speaks about the new record when he says, “the most consistent and overarching theme found in this album is that of a God that pursues a man until he inevitably succumbs to his persistence.”
   It should come as fair warning to former listeners that this album sounds dramatically different from anything Belle has previously released. Gone are the days of acoustic guitars, occasional banjos, and bare piano chords. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find a song that could have ever made its way onto his previous album. Belle has done some very precise surgery with the reinvention of his composition. Instead of wasting time trying to compare the two incomparable records, it would only be fair to Belle if we consider this record on its own merits.
   It’s clear to see that this album is loaded with one catchy song after another. The lead single “Pieces” is an epic song, with its driving percussion and heavy synth bass leading you through each turn and guiding you into the new style. In the chorus, the song picks up as Belle sings in octaves, “There’s too much smoke to see it/ There’s too much broke to feel this/ Well I love you, I love you/ And all of your pieces.” Whether it’s the unexpected synth solo after the chorus in “Sister,” the driving drums in “Details,” or the ethereal backdrop of “I Won’t Fight It,” this record is brimming with songs you’ll be excited to put on repeat.
   Even with the stark change in musical composition, you can definitely tell this was not an undertaking Belle decided on overnight. With four years of demoing and a methodical songwriting process, it’s fair to say that Belle has evolved and made a record to be proud of both musically and lyrically. (http://matthewrmoore.wordpress.com/)
— In My Veins, May 2010
— Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, November 2011
— Pieces, July 2013
— All Those Pretty Lights, September 2008
— The Daylight EP, February 28 2012
— The Ladder, February 2010 (produced by Thomas Doeve)
— The Ladder Remixed, August 2012
— Black Bear, August 20, 2013
Live Recordings:
— Sundays at Rockit, September 2009
— Live At Hotel Cafe, March 2010
— Live At Double Door, June 2010
Help, help
I’m drowning
In the sea where I found you
The kerosene in your skin
The chemistry that I’m bound to

Picture me on an ocean
In a chest that I hollow
I picture you in slow motion
Somewhere in west Colorado
Well I don’t know where that place is
If I did I would follow
I don’t know what this taste is
If I did I would swallow

Thought I knew all the answers
Thought I held all the keys
The black bear that I led you too
Wants more than I can speak

Thought I drew out the cancers
Thought I fell the disease
Turns out that I need you now
Much more than you need me

A track meet in my car
Complicates what I told you
The back beat in my heart
Syncopates when I hold you

Well I don’t know what the use is
If I did I’d unfold you
I don’t know what the truth is
If I did I’d have told you

Thought I knew all the answers
Thought I held all the keys
The black bear that I led you too
Wants more than I can speak

Thought I drew out the cancers
Thought I fell the disease
Turns out that I need you now
Much more than you need me

Andrew Belle — Black Bear (2013)



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