Tele Novella - Merlynn Belle Music Album Reviews

Tele Novella - Merlynn Belle Music Album Reviews
The Lockhart, Texas band moves easily between folky Americana and Renaissance-esque ditties, conjuring strange stories as if through a Ouija board.

On Merlynn Belle, Tele Novella offer a ticket to a time-traveling ghost town tour. The Lockhart, Texas band’s second album shifts easily between style, genre, and time period, moving from folky Americana to Renaissance-esque ditties, from cabaret ballads to baroque pop and psychedelic rock, from the Old West to a previous century. Ultimately, Merlynn Belle is about grief, loss, and longing, conjuring its subjects as if through a Ouija board: We hear about a witch who dines on crystals, a beautiful girl who’s involved in a murder, and a shrine illuminated by candles where petitioners write their dreams on scraps of paper.
Merlynn Belle, Tele Novella’s first album for Kill Rock Stars, is also the first album as a duo for singer-songwriter Natalie Ribbons (formerly of Agent Ribbons) and multi-instrumentalist Jason Chronis (formerly of Voxtrot); Sarah La Puerta and Danny Reisch provide additional vocals and instrumentation. The band’s previous album, 2016’s House of Souls, explored Ribbons’ penchant for an uncanny story, but its macabre imagery was often covered in shimmery psych-rock guitars. Merlynn Belle trades House of Souls’ more polished production for the DIY feel of an eight-track cassette, setting Ribbons’ voice against a cornucopia of instruments including harmonium, autoharp, Optigon, vibraphone, and a yard tool known as the Garden Weasel. If House of Souls was one great vintage coat, Merlynn Bell holds the key to the entire costume department.

Ribbons steps immediately into her role as narrator on the album’s psychedelic country love ballad of an opener, “Words That Stay.” Her careful enunciation evokes a cabaret singer in the dust of a pink stage light, asking, “Where did you go?/Nobody knew you were gone.” Punctuated by flamenco-like guitar flourishes, she yo-yos between a raspy alto and a soft yodel that taps against her upper register. Here, and on “Paper Crown,” her vocals bring to mind Angel Olsen’s on Burn Your Fire for No Witness. Approached from a different angle, “Paper Crowns”’s eerie, lullaby-like melodies and Ribbons’ sing-song delivery suggest the unblinking smile of an animatronic figure. But for all its mystery, this song, like many of the others, ends with a charmed sense of resolve.

At times, Tele Novella push the stylistic boundaries a little too far and the album’s spell breaks. “One Little Pearl” sounds like accidentally wandering into a recital of medieval hymns; “Crystal Witch” evokes a beleaguered rock opera, with Ribbons singing, “No, no, get out, begone/No, no, you don’t belong,” as if she’s trying to remove a hex. But while it’s easy to imagine Tele Novellea’s rapid oscillation of styles leaving you carsick, Merlynn Belle is grounded by its evocative imagery and by Ribbons’ unique narrative voice. The final effect is less dizzying than it is intoxicating.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Tele Novella - Merlynn Belle Music Album Reviews Tele Novella - Merlynn Belle Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, February 18, 2021 Rating: 5

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