Album Review of
Happy Again

Written by Joe Ross
May 20, 2021 - 1:46pm EDT
Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star

With a whimsical style that incorporates elements of old-time stringband, ragtime and jug-band music, Bill & the Belles present eleven creative songs from the pen of guitarist/vocalist Kris Truelsen that are delightful, thoughtful and a tad irreverent.  Kalia Yeagle (fiddle, vocals), Helena Hunt (banjo, vocals) and Andrew Small (bass) are the rest of the core quartet. The women’s background voices are arranged with an appealing mix of sassiness and innocence characteristic of 60s girl groups like The Chifffons or Shirelles. Happy Again also has some gentle, understated colorings by Nick Falk (drums, percussion) and Don Eanes (piano, organ). Truelsen’s tales of love lost, longing and anguish were apparently informed by his divorce, and songs like “Make It Look Easy,” “Taking Back My Yesterday,” “Get Up and Give It One More Try” and “Good Friends are Hard to Find” are tongue-in-cheek statements that also display profound sensitivity to the human condition. “The Corn Shuckin’ Song” is a cute number with rustic theme and catchy hook that may best present the quartet’s playful side. 

Describing the band’s mission, Truelsen once said, “One of my ultimate goals is to write songs that are hard to classify in a certain time period. To transcend the now.” Just as Jim Kweskin & His Jug Band created some of the craziest music of the 60s, Bill & the Belles could be on to something big and fun for this decade with a contemporary new-time stringband sound that is more delicate, relaxed and refined. This band has a unique, wry quirkiness and appeal that could take them far, and all without washboard, kazoo, jaw harp and a preponderance of novelty tunes. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)