Today, upstate New York-based folk artist Holland Belle has released the music video for “Arrow,” the first single to be lifted from the Friday, May 13 release of her debut solo album, Bird Song (pre-save HERE). “At its heart, ‘Arrow’ is about taking a journey,” Belle says. “The battles won and lost, the lovers encountered, and the solitude of the open road. Where our hero arrives at the end is up to the listener.”
The video is a composite of found footage, all taken from Westerns of the 60’s and 70’s that had fallen into the public domain. It centers on a largely forgotten Spaghetti Western from 1968, which stars the beautiful Elsa Martinelli as an outlaw gambler and gunslinger on the run. This era of film making has long been an inspiration for Belle. As a teenager, she would often stay up to the wee hours of the morning watching old Westerns on TV. She was inspired by the universal themes of the American West: adventure, love, struggle, and sacrifice. These elements touch the heart of every person because at some point in our lives, we have all taken the hero’s journey. Watch the music video for “Arrow” on YouTube HERE.
Recorded at Basement Floods Records analog recording studio in Catskill, NY and produced by Dante Bardo, the forthcoming Bird Song is an album about building faith in something greater. Change, evolution and joy take real courage, and while some will be content to stay underwater, Bird Song sees Belle swim towards the surface. On the album, she finds her most natural voice, weaving a folk-tinged thread through a lens of self-reflection and spirituality. It’s here that Belle transforms uncertainty into songs of optimism and strength.
For Holland Belle, the voice has always been an evolving instrument. From childhood she trained to become an opera singer, adhering loyally to the firm boundaries of the classical arts. However as adulthood arrived, so with it came the many colored sounds of the wide world. She found herself experimenting with the voice, bending it into new shapes, like a silver filament that could dance and emote in endless configurations. Belle became a chameleon of sorts, able to shift to various vocal selves, molding them based on whatever the music asked for. It was exciting, and also confusing, for it left her wondering: which of these voices is actually me?
Growing up in Los Angeles, Belle formed much of her musical self in the city. For four years, she co-founded and fronted dream pop band Nightjacket, who’s swirling, hypnotic songs saw them tour with The Besnard Lakes and feature on numerous television shows and movies. After parting ways, Belle began to focus on her solo work, eventually traveling to the Catskills to begin the recording process of Bird Song at analog studio Basement Floods Records. Surrounded by the nourishing presence of her collaborators, engineer Alex Wernquest and producer Dante Bardo, Belle uncovered the sound of her next musical phase, and ultimately kick-started a radical life change. She returned to LA, sold her belongings, gave up her apartment and made the move to New York. This spontaneity and the optimism of trusting your gut permeates throughout Bird Song, as Belle offers a guiding hand through a corridor of renewal.
The catalyst for this collection of songs came from a morning in Berlin, Germany. Belle was living far from home, navigating a recent heartbreak and unsure of where her next steps would take her. On a branch outside her bedroom window, a goldfinch began to sing. Over the next few days, the bird returned to the window, prompting Belle to record this moment of beauty amid a sea of doubt and anxiety. She transformed the bird’s delicate melody into a larger song, which was later split in two to form the album’s title tracks, gently reminding us to rise out of bed and persevere, no matter how tricky the journey may seem.
Birds, frogs, thunderstorms and the sounds of the woods crept into these songs, as Belle’s iridescent, velvet-rich vocal saunters across each track. The result is testament to the observance and acceptance of the present moment, where she welcomes the unexpected and flourishes under the tapestry of the traditional. Belle also invited friends Jonathan Talbot (strings) and Wesley Harper (additional keys) onto the record, while mixing engineer Andy Baldwin (Bjork, St Lucia, Haerts) helped to piece together Bird Song‘s intimate and immersive sonic universe.
Life is not meant to be experienced behind a gauze, or guided by memories of the past, and it is throughout Bird Song that Belle offers a platform for sincerity and resolve. It’s a slow breath — a hand on your heart — as you embark on your bravest chapter yet.
Bird Song track listing:
Best I Ever Had
Down to the Docks
Trees They Grow High (Traditional)
Bird Song Part Two
What’s Best For You