Adey Bell Releases New Music

North Carolina’s Adey Bell writes, performs, and records unique music with surprisingly few elements. The instrumentation of her new EP release Venus Exalted – Tribute to the Dearly Departed includes piano, guitar, bass, drums, and violin. This suggests that there is a classical slant present in the EP’s three tracks. That’s true. I prefer to hear it as art pop. Melodies and soundscapes alike are at the forefront, and her focus on creating a mood for the listener is clear. Releases focusing on fostering a mood are often shallow affairs, but that’s far from the case with this collection. Bell’s musical and narrative talents are abundant and undeniable at every turn.

“North Star” begins Venus Exalted splendidly. If you’re a newcomer to her work, it’s obvious Bell aims high with her art; she isn’t happy providing an one-dimensional entertainment experience for her audience. The three songs included on Venus Exalted aspire to much more. “North Star” is an impassioned tribute to truthtellers who don’t believe any risk is so fraught that they must keep silent. Her specific example is the experience of Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, but “North Star” has a much broader application than one person. The musical nexus of the song is the relationship between Bell’s singing and lyrical piano playing. However, it has a much longer aural reach deftly employed during the song.

“Phoenix” is a shorter musical experience and puts its cards on the table sooner.  One consequence of its shorter running time is that the instrumentation is much more immediate. However, she continues threading her instrumentation in a layered way, and her approach complements the exemplary vocal arrangement, particularly the wordless singing she scatters throughout the number. Bell’s production reaches a new peak here. “Phoenix” engages us immediately with its warm and inviting sound that draws us deeper into its web as the track continues.

“Prayer” ends Venus Exalted Vol. 2 – Tribute to the Dearly Departed in a similar, yet different way. Listeners will be taken with how she can craft a much more direct musical experience, and the arrangement forgoes many of the stylistic complexities heard in the first two tracks, without sacrificing the feel established by the earlier material. Her respectful and measured vocals nonetheless burn with passion. It is the EP’s longest cut, spanning nearly seven minutes, and demanding listeners will appreciate how Bell never takes any shortcuts. She expresses herself with reservation, and her artistic gifts avoid unnecessary bloat or pretentiousness.

Venus Exalted Vol. 2 – Tribute to the Dearly Departed would risk pomposity in lesser hands. However, Adey Bell has fine-tuned her artistic mission in such a way that self-importance never encroaches on the listening experience. You’ll be dazzled by her songwriting skills, there’s no question, and her capacity for lyrical excellence appears to know no bounds. It is her passion, ultimately, that will likely blow you away. It is bottomless, inexhaustible, and inspires you to see life differently. Adey Bell’s music is a gift; we’re lucky to have her.

Michael Rand

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