Once A Day

Nick West's reviews for Bucketfull Of Brains and Rock'N'Reel

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Location: London, United Kingdom

Co-editor and publisher of Bucketfull Of Brains since 1996.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007




The sweetly gravel-voiced Texan singer-songwriter Vince Bell lost years of his creative life in the aftermath of a shocking 1982 car accident. Prior to that he’d spent much of the 70s playing alongside the legends of the heart-worn highways and they recognised him as one of them. Townes Van Zandt, with whom he shared many stages, said simply, “Vince is a poet”, and Nancy Griffith reckoned him “the best of us”.

He resurfaced in 1994 with the Bob Neuwirth-produced Phoenix. Texas Plates followed in 1999 and Live In Texas in 2001. That live album saw him ably supported by Cam King from The Explosives, and King produces Recado. The judgement of his eminent peers is confirmed in the songs presented here; ten originals and a cover of Van Zandt’s ‘Mr. Mudd And Mr. Gold’. Bell’s songs are both precise and unknowable; seemingly simple but offering conditional views of his interior landscapes. When he writes about open spaces they tend to be stepping-off points to transcendence. In ‘Isla’ he offers a “welcome to my island”, but zen-like insists “if you’re gonna spend some time, spend some time”. In ‘Done That Too’ he declares, “I’ll stare into the face of God. Anytime he wants to”. The Townes cover is rough, strange and unusual, while ‘Gypsy’, his tribute to the late master, seems double-edged and thus truer to that troubled soul.

There’s a deal of unobtrusive support playing which may take a few plays to insinuate but then it’s much appreciated. The same can be said of these songs.



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