Album Reviews

Glenna Bell

Lone Star: Song and Stories Straight from the Heart of Texas

Artist:     Glenna Bell

Album:     Lone Star: Songs and Stories Straight from the Heart of Texas

Label:     Self Released

Release Date:     04/15/2016

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Glenna Bell is not your conventional singer-songwriter. She has a unique approach, blending stories and songs in a way that’s somewhere between talking blues and regular song structure. It’s genuinely personal, theatrically influenced and somehow balanced  between the introspective and light-hearted. The trembling yet soulful quality of her voice gives conviction to her tales, which at times read like short vignettes. There’s a bit more variety in terms of mood and tempo than her previous release, Perfectly Legal: Songs of Sex, Love and Murder, but the theatrical qualities still remain. Bell says, “As life accelerates and the world becomes increasingly more complicated, I wanted to take a step back, slow down and spend time alone at home writing this collection of songs that are meant to be heard in private spaces and enjoyed from the perspective of a listener, much as a reader would consume a good book, rather than from the vantage point of someone who is out to drink and dance the night away to the backdrop of a band.”

Nonetheless (because you’re probably thinking this is an acoustic record with just Glenna and her guitar), on most of these tracks she is backed by a full band and/or prestigious players. Producer and guitarist Mark Abernathy (Sabre Rattlers) and bassist George Reiff (Ray Wylie Hubard) join her on “Poor Girl (In Blue)” and “So in Love with You.” The writer and keyboardist from the UK band Keane, Tim Rice-Oxley, joins for her cover of “Everybody’s Changing.” Austin veterans steel guitarist Mike Hardwick and drummer Rick Richards lend their touches to Don Henley’s “Heart of the Matter.” The most radio friendly tune is also the most light-hearted track, her own “Pig in Lipstick Blues” featuring the esteemed roots and bluesman Johnny Nicholas on guitar and piano. Among these compelling tracks, perhaps the one that best defines Bell’s unique story-to-song style is “Shiner Bock & ZZ Top (Houston Avenue).”

Glenna Bell is a graduate of the renowned University of Houston Creative Writing Program where she studied with Pulitzer prize-winning playwright, Edward Albee. She has been honored by the State of Texas in a House resolution recognizing her musical contribution to the state as well as by many prominent Houston and Texas publications and organizations. This is her fifth album, building on the critical success and prolific radio airplay earned by 2010’s Perfectly Legal: Songs of Sex, Love and Murder. Bell’s music is intelligent, unique, and provocative. Grab yourself a glass of wine, find a quiet spot and listen up.

– Jim Hynes

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