Andrew Belle’s “The Ladder”
When wading between the pop singer/songwriter titans of these days, it’s easy to dismiss newcomers and those who don’t have tens of thousands (or three million) followers on their twitter. Some of the music just plagues us like we’ve heard this all before. But I’m pleased to have been handed Andrew Belle’s The Ladder and found myself […]Beth Yeckley
out of 10
When wading between the pop singer/songwriter titans of these days, it’s easy to dismiss newcomers and those who don’t have tens of thousands (or three million) followers on their twitter. Some of the music just plagues us like we’ve heard this all before. But I’m pleased to have been handed Andrew Belle’s The Ladder and found myself enjoying his first full-length album. It’s the smart arrangement of Belle’s earthy voice draped over the steady acoustic and upbeat percussion that eagerly leads listeners into a lush world of easy-listening pop melodies.
Belle’s voice is perhaps the most alluring part of his music—reflecting parts of Greg Laswell, Matt Nathanson, and Mat Kearney, but still with a stirring nature that is all Belle. His first single, “The Ladder” is an indication of all the right moves for his musical genre. He combines the banjo, the acoustic, crisp percussion, and catchy lyrical doses to create, “Whoa is me / Faithless you and selfish me / I will leave a key for you outside my doorway / Whoa is me / One if by land or two by sea / So won’t you leave for me a light outside your doorway.”
The musical styling of “Tower” is reminiscent of The Fray, while “Oh My Stars” almost hints at Jack Johnson. And in the latter song, which is over halfway through the album, Belle makes it clear again that a ladder is more than a theme—it’s a telling object that describes his continuous journey to “somewhere” that inspired this album. He sings, “I see the question mark a top your spine / I’ve got a ladder honey won’t you let me climb / Tell me all about your foreign wars / And all the photographs that line your drawers.”
“Add It Up” treads a little on the softer side of vocals mixed with heavy strings and bears a recognizable grace that transcends the somberness of the song. He sings, “Come to think of it / I’m the one who’s letting you down / Tell me what does it for you now that I’m not around / I know it doesn’t add up when you put it on paper / You were playing by the water ‘cause you knew I would save you.”
The album holds no deep lulls, as it begins to wind down with a very resplendent “Don’t Blame Yourself.” The chorus in this song is absolutely the wave upon which a pop falsetto should ride—rumbling instrumentation that reaches its climax and then smooths out in one triumphant swoop. And as in all good stories, he gives you the antidote, both lyrically and musically, with the line, “But you need someone to be someone better than me.”
The Ladder is probably one of the best pop singer/songwriter albums from an up-and-comer this year. It has an even distribution of soft and electric, somber and hopeful, with a surprising fullness that lingers when the album ends. Musically, it’s nothing you haven’t heard before, but that’s what makes it a smart backdrop to the vocals and story. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing these lyrics for days and swooning over Belle’s presence on this album.