The first phrase that springs to mind here is old fashioned; as if Omertá is a lost relic from the seventies. I mean that in the best possible sense — The Belles’ songwriting can only really be described as classic, but there are no flares on display. And it’s utterly contemporary as well as feeling aged. In fact, it’s the most refreshing piece of singer-songwriting I’ve heard for a long time.
The Belles is basically Christopher Tolle, who writes, plays guitar and sings. Jake Cardwell handles percussion. It’s an uncluttered setup, and it shows. The pair make folky, acoustic rock, (decorated with bass, keys and other bits and pieces when they feel like it), and none of it seems at all strained. There’s no claustrophobia on display here, no competing egos, no squashed emotions. It all feels spontaneous, natural and unforced.
The production on this release is perfect. Sometimes the recording and engineering of a disc just works and allows you to forget about everything but the songs, and that’s what’s happened here. Major kudos to Peter Buxton and Ed Rose for their work in this department.
From where I sit, there’s little else to mention about Omertá, because The Belles don’t seem to have a dark past or formulated claim to fame to carry their music. It’s almost a shame, because without it, I don’t know if their output is mainstream enough to secure the audience it deserves; and it means that I can’t spin something controversial or titillating out of this write-up. But, in my opinion, the fact that they don’t need anything particularly “exciting” in their CV to justify the fact that they’re making music can only be a good thing. Dramatic they may not be, but their work is really, really good — unpretentious music at its best. It doesn’t need any more explanation than that. Check it out.
The Belles: http://www.thebelles.com