Holler Country Music

Bella White Delivers Debut Performance at Black Deer Festival 2023

June 19, 2023 3:24 pm GMT
Last Edited June 20, 2023 10:01 am GMT

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Holler Country Music
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Holler Country Music
Holler Country Music

Photography by Kendall Wilson

For songs so fraught with sorrow and questioning, Bella White’s quietly confident demeanour is a real contrast to the music she makes. At just 22, White is one of country music’s most exciting talents.

At the forefront of a current roots revival coming out of America, the Canadian-born singer’s secret weapon is the most powerful of them all - her voice. An instrument in of itself, White’s ability to teeter between exquisite catches and yodel-like cracks is totally enchanting. But for all its prettiness, her vocals sure do pack a punch. Summoning a stirring, forceful kind of sound that rips right through you when she needs it to, White wields her voice without remorse.

With White’s vocals and guitar, Patrick M'Gonigle on fiddle and Alan Mackie playing bass, there’s an easy chemistry between the trio that is immediately clear. Working as one entity, they produce the kind of free-flowing sound reminiscent of traditional folk bands, whilst putting their own, definitely country stamp on it.

As Black Deer debut’s go, this was a pretty special one. Outside the tent, light rainfall provided a perfect setting for White’s romantic melancholy and longing lyrics, as she sings; "I often think I could hop on a plane / And it all goes away / But I'd be a fool to think my burdens / Are something I don't carry".

A surprise appearance from fan-favourite festival drifter, Dylan Earl, offers the audience a stunning duet of Merle Haggard’s ‘Silver Wings’, with Earl’s deep voice the perfect accompaniment to White’s angelic tones.

Continuing her tributes to the legends of the game, an upbeat rendition of Marty Robbins’ ‘Doggone Cowboy’ showcases once again the band’s musical dexterity, whilst their cover of Lucinda Williams ‘Concrete and Barbed Wire’ proves White’s ability to make any song sound soothing.

Treating the crowd to an unreleased, untitled track, White says she’s open to naming suggestions as her easy charm shines through in between songs. It’s hard to believe that someone so young is capable of such composure on stage, but it seems White is quite at home up there.

In cow-print clogs, a flowing dress and loosely threaded plaits, it’s clear she maintains her own individuality that is reflected in her music, and isn’t about to bend to anyone else's ideas. But the lyrics don’t always contain quite the same amount of assurance, her songs of love lost can sometimes turn existential, as she questions her place in the world. Finishing the set with ‘The Way I Oughta Go’, from her latest album Among Other Things, she contemplates; “Now to me, the word love has lost all meaning / It's just an empty sound I thought I'd always known”.

A stand-out show to start off her UK tour, if Bella White’s Black Deer performance is any indication of what’s to come, we want to be front and centre for every one.

Bella White - Setlist

Taken from her set at Black Deer Festival 2023 at Eridge Park, Kent, UK on Sunday, June 18 2023.

  • Gutted
  • Broke (When I Realised)
  • Flowers On My Bedside
  • Among Other Things
  • Just Like Leaving
  • Just Unwanted
  • Silver Wings (Merle Haggard)
  • Doggone Cowboy (Marty Robbins)
  • Unnamed new song
  • Concrete and Barbed Wire (Lucinda Williams)
  • Rhododendron
  • The Way I Oughta Go

For more coverage of Black Deer Festival 2023, see below:

Written by Rosie Down
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