Bella White’s music seems to have come to me fully formed as a mature singer songwriter despite the fact that “Just Like Leaving” is a debut work from a young artist. The songs show a maturity and wisdom one doesn’t find in musicians many years her senior. While the song’s themes tend to be sad they show insight into relationships and emotions rarely found in writers of any age.
And that voice! She embraces the twang from the Appalachian roots of her father’s favorite country and bluegrass collection. That collection has influenced Bella who spent her youth in Calgary, Alberta singing Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe and Doc Watson songs. Inspired by the prairie and western Rocky Mountain landscapes of her youth, this batch of brilliant songs find her successfully translating modern experiences into timeless ancient sounds.
The set opens with “All I Gave To You” which is a great example of the craftmanship of creating a seemingly effortless song out of a teenager’s difficulty in an early relationship. Bella translates this personal struggle into a more universal statement because “all of us want to feel revered and deeply loved”. Wise yet gentle and it sets the listener up for a very fulfilling batch of songs about loss, love and struggle; certainly not new themes. But rarely is there such consistently beautifully drawn examples of these emotions displayed throughout this collection. I consider it one of the best releases of the year, in any genre.
Our chat touches on her stellar band including fiddler Julian Pinelli and mandolinist Reed Stutz along with bass player Robert Alan Mackie. Lonely Heart Stringband’s own Patrick M’Gonigle helps in the studio as well as singing with a bit of fiddling too.
There’s lots of reasons that Rolling Stone calls the album “sublime Appalachian heartbreak” and an “Artist to Watch”. Specifically, there’s nine great reasons on this remarkable debut. We finish our segment with Bella describing the circumstances surrounding the first single from “Just Like Leaving” called “Broke (When I Realized). I add the title cut to finish a great interview with a musician whose remarkable voice and songwriting skills leave us wanting more; always a good sign.