Bat for Lashes crossed with Mitski.
I feel like if you already love Bat for Lashes and Mitski, you’ll have added ‘Merlynn Belle’ to your basket already. That is fine, my work here is done. However, if you aren’t aware, Tele Novella crosses dusty folk-rock duo with pop-rock sensibilities for their new album. Feeling equal parts weary, road-worn, lustful and majestic – its a bold and expressive album. This is one for the cowgirls.
Using plenty of Mexican percussion, dusty guitars, vibrant zithers and a wild western seaside organ, Tele Novella marks out her stool in the cowgirl rock world. I haven’t heard an album that committed to this style for quite a while. It reminds me a little of how Sarah Blasko’s ‘As Day Follows Night’ made night desert pop an entirely new sound. This is more guttural and folksy. The zithers rush in ‘Paper Crown’ whilst Western guitars and Mexican trumpets flare up in ‘Crystal Witch’. The music often waltzes along as if you are marching ever onwards on your journey. The album is a musical caravan.
The real standout is Tele Novella’s voice. She doesn’t care if her voice flips awkwardly on certain note transitions, she goes in with all her emotions. Sharing a similar tone to Mitski, her voice can carry depth in a powerful way. She also quickly turns on the aggression and passion and as her voice is recorded through a dry filter, Tele Novella roars at you in some choruses. When paired with the dusty production and the instrumentation, the whole album feels old and new at the same time.
There are some great tracks here. The woodblock skip of rusty ballad ‘Technicolor Town’ is cute and sad at the same time. ‘It Won’t be Long’ and ‘Wishing Shrine’ are two fantastic mergers of folk, rock and pop that deserve some huge attention. The emotion of the lulling organs of ‘A Lot to Want’ is strangely affecting, like an alternative Beatles track. With ten tracks at 33 minutes, Tele Novella doesn’t hang around and they cram plenty into her work.
‘Merlynn Belle’ is an album I found by accident on a mutual music friends recommendation. It is absolutely the kind of album that will grow through word of mouth as its bold sound and strong delivery mean it doesn’t fit neatly into a box. Yet, Tele Novella doesn’t deserve to slip between the cracks. It is a cracking album that is mustering up a cult following and I have joined the caravan. We need more desert-folk stars in our lives like this.
Recommended track: Paper Crown
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