New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Boulder, CO-based singer-songwriter Lisa Bell is set to release her fifth album, Back Seat, on September
6, 2019. Already known as a musically diverse Americana artist with jazz influences, Lisa Bell shifts gears with the release, compiling a potent album that nods to the influences that have helped sharpen her sound - including laidback R&B, melodic soul, and American roots music - while also pushing into contemporary, Triple A-friendly territory. Gluing the mix together are Bell's expressive voice and ever-evolving writing chops, which combine to tell the story of an empty nester who, having spent years raising her children, is ready to climb back into the driver's seat and chase down new dreams. The album was produced by Evan Reeves.
"I am thrilled with this new album and feel it is the most genuine and expressive yet," Bell says. "I took my time in writing and producing this body of work, to hone songs that really speak directly from my heart and tap into my full creative potential."
Early press praise for the title track from Bsides & Badlands called her music a "magical haven," and wrote, "she sweetly guides the golden instruments through a sojourn of hope and well-earned redemption. …while it's been six years since her last full-length, her craft has only burned stronger and brighter and braver. …Bell peels back layers of her voice like an onion newly uncovered from the earth. She's flavorful but unpolished enough to crack and let the character dazzle the edges."
The album began in an off-the-grid cabin in the Colorado backwoods, where Bell wrote the bulk of Back Seat's 12 songs. Bell sings with a powerful, natural voice, sharing the spotlight with electric piano, organ, electric guitar, saxophone, and even ukulele. The title track, "Back Seat," which doubles as the album's only co-written tune (penned alongside fellow Coloradan Andy Ard), kicks things off with sultry vocals and the story of a career in motion, while "The Road is Always Longer" mixes blasts of brass with a subtle salute to blues-rock icons like Bonnie Raitt. Elsewhere, Bell gets atmospheric with the lushly layered "India," gives herself a pep talk during "Get in the Flow," and rides a punchy, keyboard-heavy groove with "What Went Wrong," all before bringing Back Seat to a soothing stop with the chill, mid-tempo "Meet Me in the Space Between."
Perhaps most importantly, Back Seat tells a story that reaches beyond Bell's own experience. There are deep, mature love songs here — songs that examine human relationships not from the perspective of starry-eyed newlyweds, but of lovers who've ridden the rollercoaster of a long, emotional partnership together. There are worldly songs, too, with "India" — recorded in part at Colorado's eclectic The TANK Center for Sonic Arts — recounting Bell's eye-opening and transformational journey to the magical country. A nature theme runs throughout the album, as well, thanks not only to the remote cabin in which Bell wrote the songs, but also to the ambient sounds of Colorado's wilderness — including rain, rivers, bird calls, and more — that she recorded with help from her son, Brendan Bell. A rising star in the world of "chill" EDM, Brendan (AKA DJ Covex) also appears on "I Can't Stand the Rain" and "India," adding ambience and atmospheric sounds to the tracks.
A graduate of the University of Missouri's Conservatory of Music, Bell launched her professional solo music career nearly 20 years ago, steadily transforming herself from a jazz standards singer into an eclectic, seasoned musician who co-writes her own songs and shared shows with headliners like Stanley Jordan, Christopher
Cross, and Oleta Adams. Back Seat finds her writing without collaborators for the first time. Bell wasn't just chasing the muse this time; she was proving to the world - and, perhaps, to herself, as well - that she wasn't finished with her musical journey. After four albums and countless performances, she still had something compelling to say.
"When you reach middle age and it's 'empty nester' time, you have an opportunity to recapture whatever dreams you might've left behind," Bell explains. "That's the focus of Back Seat. My son is just beginning with his music career, but I'm not close to being done with mine. I'm finding my own voice and my own style of writing, rather than being heavily influenced by others. And I'm happy to be behind the wheel again."
Bell is planning an album release show to celebrate Back Seat and will be performing on September
5, 2019 at the Nomad
Playhouse in Boulder, Colorado. Tickets are $12-15 and are available here. In addition to a show on November 2, 2019 at the Mercury Cafe in Denver, CO, Bell is planning more shows in support of Back Seat, which will be announced soon.