Jeff Bell Rome Album Review
by by Neil Mach ©Raw Ramp Music Mag • Tags: Faith Jeff Bell, Jeff Bell Like Blood, Jeff Bell Rome, Jeff Bell Rome Album Review, neil mach, raw ramp music mag
With his raw, acoustic, often multi layered music and heart tugging songs, London, UK resident Jeff Bell has generated significant consumer interest. Musically Leftfield with traditional Roots, Blues and Rock, Jeff Bell was described by Fatea Magazine 2012 as “An intuitive song-writer, captivating vocalist, and multi -instrumentalist who combines compelling melodies and lyrics that lay truths uncomfortably bare.”
Jeff Bell is about to release his fifth studio album “Rome”, on general release. With the album expected to generate interest, the starkly crafted sound of Rome features 14 tracks ranging in themes of social/political relevance and issues of personal introspection and relationships delivered with genuine emotive intensity. It is worth noting also that the record is more than a filter for American inspired Roots and Rock music. While notables such as Iggy Pop and Steve Marriott are undeniable influences, Bell’s composition and performance techniques are quite distinct.
We had a listen to ‘Rome’. Here’s what we thought:
Title track ‘Rome’ sets out the gritty-man’s stall. “The world’s OK…” is smoky as a hickory burner on a smoggy day. Then ‘Naked’ stumbles in awkwardly, just like the subject. This song is a half dressed girl just woken by the sun. Downward stepping chords add moody emotion – and a half-buzzed harmony provides piquancy.
‘Low Key Affair’ is equally sad-baked -but with pangs of light provided by guitar. That inebriated voice is racked with real guilt. This song wrings you dry. ‘Only a Footstep Away’ is lightly jazzy and gently sweeps over you like a slight haze. The lyrics are interesting and memorable.
Then ‘Damn You’ crashes in. This is a rockier affair. A blues harp ruffles the edges and the beat bumps provocatively against your rear. A growling guitar adds a lick and a snarl, and goes well with the gravel dust voice.
‘Never’ is slighter benumbed. An astute lyric rings out across the painful gasping of the sounds. But the hobo comes out again for ‘Like Blood. A finger picked tune follows the gritty voice meekly, before an electric guitar gushes in with excitement and adds the acid. This is a high point.
‘Phoney World’ is – perhaps appropriately – the least blueish track on the album. But ‘Faith’ restores the order, with an unsettling chord progression and lamenting vocals. This type of song is where the ruinous voice of Bell weaves a special magic. It is rough like sandpaper against thigh, and as acid as vinegar on the shelf. This is a stand-out song, with the kind of jaw-dropping guitar solo at the end that will make your hair stand on your head.
‘I See’ is the most ‘Rolling Stones’ sounding track on the disc. This will be one hellishly addictive barnstormer in any live show. Keen guitars slide menacingly across the flea-bitten rhythms and sexy vocals.
The album finishes with ‘Everything’ which reflects the sentiment that we started with in ‘Rome’.
You cannot help but feel a little mistrust when a voice tells you “Everything thing’s gonna be OK’. Don’t you always know that’s not true?
Lies may be white. But they are still still untrue.
This album is an emotional blues journey.. It’s never corny, and it absorbs deep into the bones. It will rot you. If you let it.
-© Neil_Mach February 2013 -