Album Review

Bella White - Among Other Things

Among Other Things is a reminder of what we all are: a bundled up katamari of all our hopes and heartbreaks, triumphs and failures, the mistakes we wish we hadn’t made and the ones we’re glad we did.

Bella White - Among Other Things Album Cover
April 17, 2023 2:16 pm GMT

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Bella White - Among Other Things

Label: Rounder Records

Release Date: April 21st, 2023

Producers: Jonathan Wilson

Tracklisting:

1. The Way I Oughta Go

2. Flowers On My Bedside

3. Dishes

4. Break My Heart

5. Marilyn

6. Numbers

7. Rhododendron

8. Worth My While

9. The Best Of Me

10. Among Other Things

I once found myself sitting in the passenger seat of a Land Rover, riding shotgun next to an ex-SAS paratrooper.

We drove through the countryside in silence as I stared out of the window at the fields flashing by. After a while, I asked him what he’d learnt from his time in the SAS. “Always expect the unexpected,” he replied, then punched me in the leg so hard I couldn’t walk properly for two days.

Listening to Bella White’s Among Other Things feels a bit like that sometimes. One minute you’re gazing out of the window, taking in the world in all its beauty and wonder, the next you’re doubled up in agony, reeling from the merciless, random cruelty of it all.

Recorded in Topanga Canyon and produced by Jonathan Wilson, the songs on Among Other Things came out of White’s free-flowing collaboration with the producer, alongside an enviable line-up of some of indie rock’s finest. Big Thief guitarist Buck Meek, singer and songwriter Erin Rae, multi-instrumentalist and string arranger Drew Erickson - known for his work with Weyes Blood and Lana Del Rey - and White’s own long-time bandmate Patrick M’Gonigle all appear throughout.

What comes out of such collaboration is something strangely enchanting, loose and spacious. There’s a clattering jug band feel to the album which allows space for the centrepiece which is White’s voice.

World-weary and desperate, her voice is an oddly unfinished thing - perfect in its imperfection – and she revels in pulling it apart and playing with it. Like the birdsong of a little baby crow, she begins each song with a disarming sing-song sweetness to her voice before it catches and cracks, giving way to a guttural rasp that sounds like it’s been dragged up from the depths of her soul and ripped out of her.

Like when Billie Holliday sings ‘Strange Fruit’ or when Kurt Cobain sings ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night’, it’sa rare thing of wonder that makes her one of country music’s most extraordinary voices.

Among Other Things is a reminder of what we all are: a bundled up katamari of all our hopes and heartbreaks, triumphs and failures, the mistakes we wish we hadn’t made and the ones we’re glad we did.

It represents every time we ever stayed too long or left when we shouldn’t have, our scars, our traumas, our coping mechanisms, the dried flowers by the bedside table or a robin building a nest outside our window.

It's these small moments that Bella White has a folk-singer’s poetic touch for. She’s capable of wringing meaning from the tiniest of details and magnifying them until you can see yourself reflected within.

Where other singers might take a straight road safely through the mountains, White takes the winding unworn path around it. While she may lose her way sometimes, White beats her way out through the undergrowth, stepping over fallen rocks and teetering on the edge, staring down into the drop below.

“Lately I’ve felt the world so bleak, there’s not a lot here for me,” she sings on the album’s closing title track. Let’s hope she finds enough to keep her here a little while longer.

7.5 / 10

Bella White's 2023 album, Among Other Things, is out April 21st via Rounder Records. You can purchase the record from one of Holler's selected partners below:

Bella White - Among Other Things Album Cover

Rounder | 2023

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For more country albums released in 2023 and their release dates, see below:

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Written by Jof Owen
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