(photo: Patric Carver)
The first time I saw Hudson Bell was years ago at the Starry Plough. I remember being captivated by the hooky charm of his songs — particularly “In a Ball.” I was humming it to myself for days afterward.
If the fecund ground of pop music is fertilized by earworms, Bell is a masterful composter. However, the ease by which the listener can be comfortable with Bell’s songs should not be mistaken for a lack of complexity. His compositions bridge this great divide between being completely familiar without having the slightest hint of predictability. That night, even though I never had heard Bell before, I was struck by how comfortable his music was — or, rather, how comfortable I was letting it envelop me. Even his sad songs have so much empathy and truth to them that there’s this beautiful reassurance of the human experience.
The same can be said for his upcoming album, Psychic Breaks. This is the first album Bell has performed on without any other musicians contributing, and it is also the first album with no guitar. However, Bell’s newest offering is still unmistakably his. Bell’s gentle but raw storytelling provokes the sweetness and sadness of the every day — those extraordinary feelings that come with ordinary, common experiences. It’s not that Bell is every describing something out of this world, but that he knows the world so well that his lyrical descriptions feel practically supernatural — particularly on his beautiful single, “Big City, Small World.”
Bell’s new album will be out November 26, 2021.