Starting Anew

Maggie Belle

Splice Records, 2022

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


A New Orleans artist who started emerging on the scene in 2013, Maggie Belle is armed with a stunning set of pipes that helps illuminate her rhythm and blues, soul and pop formula and makes for a very distinct and memorable listening experience on this debut LP.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Belle wisely places the title track in the leadoff position, and it radiates with jazz qualities as her poetic and soulful voice is complemented by graceful piano and a subtle layer of pop nods, too.

From there, the setting gets quite cozy with the frisky bass and calm drumming of “Buckling Down,” and “Sonic Boom” showcases well timed brass and thumping drums alongside Belle’s diverse vocals. “Hometown” exits Side A, moving with a stylish demeanor that rumbles slightly amid the very expressive singing.

The back half starts with the powerful and very New Orleans-sounding “Hold Me,” where eloquent keys match Belle’s inimitable singing, while “Nobody But You,” the album's best, bounces with an infectious energy that will get your body moving to the carefully plucked bass and breezy melodies.

Inching towards the end, “Mama” enters darker areas of eloquent storytelling, heavy on mood thanks to the emotive piano, and “She Is” exits the listen with perhaps the fullest track, where dreamy singing and light instrumentation is rich with an articulate demeanor.

Starting Anew was fleshed out during the height of the pandemic, when Belle was working as an ICU nurse. That experience certainly left an impression on the songstress, and the mental, physical and emotional turmoil of that time certainly resonates in these very heartfelt and substantial songs.

The help Belle receives from keyboardist Brian Scheller is certainly worth noting, and her inspiration from legends like Janis Joplin, Nina Simone, Esther Phillips and Billie Holiday makes for a stunning first record.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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