Mit "At Welding Bridge", ihrem mittlerweile vierten Album für Bugge Wesseltofts Label Jazzland, bereichern die langjährigen Downbeat-Vorreiter Beady Belle ihr gewohnt hochwertiges Songwriting stilsicher um TexMex-Elemente und kubanisch anmutende Percussion-Elemente. Über allem die wie immer mitreißende Stimme von Frontfrau Beate Lech, die mittlerweile zum Besten gehören dürfte was es im zeitgenössischen (Acid-) Jazz und Artverwandtem geben dürfte. Beady Belle beweisen mit "At Welding Bridge" Mut zur zeitgemäßen Veränderung und werden mit einem
deutlich erweiterten Publikum belohnt werden.
Beate S. Lech, last heard on Jazzland Recordings in the unique offering, "Go' Natt", clearly has been busy, not only in writing and recording this, the 5th Beady Belle album, but in doing something - that indefinable something - that somehow manages to make her better than before. Her voice, that truly incredible voice that so impressed fans and critics alike on the group's previous outing, "Belvedere", has become more refined, more resonant, more seductive - more of everything good, in fact. Her range and tone is impeccable, and that honey-smooth voice is infused with smouldering emotional heat. She could sing you the biggest lie you ever heard, and your heart would want to believe every word of it. Beate's voice is so capable of such enchantment, it's sometimes easy to overlook the superb musical arrangements it gently floats above. Tex-Mex elements meet with Cuban percussion rhythms and unexpected horn arrangements ("Come Home", "Runaway Mind", "Turn Back Time"); Softly stumbling chord sequences open up deep twanging baritone guitar reminiscent of Marc Ribot ("Come Home", "Runaway Mind", "Walk On Air"); atmospheric echoes of dub reggae or soul-funk overlap with traces of Steeley Dan ("Bird's-eye View", "Runaway Mind", "Press of Canvas", "Leeway"); occasional glimpses of electronic beats underlay fragmentary horn and piano ("Voyage (Interlude)"); amazingly subtle multilayered vocals create expansive pathways for Beate's remarkable voice to meander purposefully through her sharp observational lyrics (particularly "Diamond in the Rough", "Apple (Interlude)", "Leeway", and "Ambush").
"At Welding Bridge" presents melodically mature music, understated yet powerful stuff, bearing more fruit with each listen. Nothing overstays its welcome; nothing intrudes where it doesn't belong. Hooks abound, yet are never pushed to the point of distraction from the rest of the song. This is assured song writing, a rare commodity in our modern home studio and strict four-four looping culture. The songs live and breathe, each endowed with more character than many artists manage to convey in a whole album.
The majority of "At Welding Bridge" takes many of the musical conventions of country music, sets up expectation of the predictable country course, only to jump sideways into a purely urban cool jazz style, or have that vibe dissipate in a smoky haze of smooth soul cool ("The Storm", "Ambush"). But Beady Belle have never been purists: The stylistic juxtapositions are done with aplomb, never feeling bolted together, but instead are seamlessly blended, moving confidently across or simultaneously through different genres. The standard country instrumentation, particularly the guitars, shares a common ancestry with the LA sound of the seventies, while the more C&W arrangements echo Ennio Morricone's approach to the genre ("Walk on Air", "Apple (Interlude)"). But this isn't derivative - this is 21st century song writing, speaking to the 21st century heart.
Beady Belle's approach has been one of steadfast commitment to their sound, gradually evolving, coaxing new elements to blossom that had previously only been hinted at, augmenting it with new elements, creating a consistently strong body of music, each step more confident than the last. To compare this album with "Home", it is easy to hear just how much ground they have covered in just 9 years. Just like its predecessors, "At Welding Bridge" is shot through with genuine warmth, heart, and - yes! - soul. Pure soul! Prepare to be seduced again! (jazzecho. de)
"So steckt das Album trotz der wunderbar eingängigen Songs voller Überraschungen. Und Beate S. Lech bewegt sich mit ihrer gereiften Stimme vollkommen souverän durch das bunte musikalische Szenario." (songwriters. de)
,,Das die bis zur Schläfrigkeit Iaidback gehaltenen Songs einen nicht vom Sofa auf springen lassen, sollte man der Band nicht zum Vorwurf machen. Subtile Genüsse wie diese sind auch im Liegen prima zu goutieren." (Jazzthing, 11 / 2010 - 01 / 2011)