“I feel the end is near for me… I’ve lived a wholesome life.” The key lyric on the album’s opening song “Civil War Song” gives listeners an indication of just who La Belle Roche are: deep, full, and progressively intellectual folk. The song does a remarkable job of engaging with a historically-accurate pre-battle premonition that Civil War soldiers actually had. The end of the song’s base drum simulation of a cannon blast drives the point home.
La Belle Roche is not your average folk band. The sound is full and exquisite. Simultaneously comforting sounds juxtapose the deep, thoughtful, and sometimes dark lyrics.
“Lust for Blue” is an extremely well-balanced track. It is not over produced in the way that some popular artists are. Instead, it balances the vocals and instrumentation in a wonderful wholistic production that creates both comfort and questions. “I wanna be in the broken tide, the open sea… pass me out, let the waves wash over me… I wanna dance in the presence of sunken souls and sunken ships that fell from above… come take me home.” The word-picture created by these lyrics is vibrant and exciting. The salvo, “come take me home” seems simultaneously a death wish, but all flavored with a life wish… to really live life more fully. Great song.
The lighter, airy, but precise guitar on “How Dare” has the immediate qualities of a pop tune. The song itself is probably a bit deep for the top-40, but it’s great for readers of this site. The lyrics question relationships in provocative ways. “You fight against the one who’s helping.” Many of us have been in that position. The song fosters deep connections with the listener all with a, for lack of a better term, “folksy” charm to the melody line. Again, well done.
“Gold Rush,” like the opening track has a historical dimension. It is about the California Gold Rush in 1848-1849. It’s really a wonderful lyrical concept, embodying the wide-eyed enthusiasm of the gold seekers. The repetitive “California bound” reflects the steely resolve of the gold seekers, full of optimism that going west would be better than working in their own towns. Musically it fits the sound of the rest of the album and has a particular whimsy to it that is fun.
Both “Ode to a Plant” and “Untitled” which finish off the album are deep lyrically. While “Ode to a Plant” is about perseverance and survival, “Untitled” seems a bit less clear in its purpose. It seems to have a supernatural component, possibly about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, “It will be just the thing you need. With no room to grow, there’s no room to bleed. Extending my hand for all mankind. You’ve strayed from the flock, but you’ll always be mine.” Both songs, however, reflecting a simpler structure throughout. The end of “Untitled” takes off with orchestral accompaniment near the end, but maintains a focus on the lyrical authenticity of the song.
All told La Belle Roche have offered us a fantastic album here. It has a nice variety, but maintains a strong integrity with an exciting vocal blend and instrumentation. As these guys continue to develop their craft, we’re certain they’re going to bring more unique, deep, and important music that bends genres and challenges listeners the think deeply about the world around them.