Now Playing: Josie Bello’s ‘Resilience’ 

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Bello
Image courtesy of Broken Jukebox Media



Josie Bello has just released a new album. It’s titled Resilience. But first, for those of you not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.

Josie Bello

Image courtesy of Josie Bello

Josie Bello is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist and a native New Yorker. According to her official website, she wanted to learn guitar at age seven. Nevertheless, “her Italian-American family directed her to take accordion lessons, where she learned enough musical structure to maintain her interest in making music.” 

Prior to the release of this most recent work, her resume included her premiere platter, Can’t Go Home, which dropped in 2019, and her 2020 recording, Have Purpose, Live Long. She performs live locally both with her Kit House Band and with her partner Frank Bello. She found a gig at Hope Lodge, a hotel in midtown Manhattan run by the American Cancer Society, especially memorable. 

Signature Sound

Josie Bello’s signature sound is a mix of multiple music genres including (but not necessarily limited to) Americana, folk, country, and even a tiny tint of zydeco. Since she grew up in Queens, New York, it should be no real surprise that her “musical hero is Bruce Springsteen.” Other sources of inspiration include Mary Chapin Carpenter and Emmylou Harris.  

Resilience

Resilience is a 9-track album of all original material. The songs’ subjects focus on a multitude of moods and topics. On this disc, Bello leads the way on keyboards, accordion, and vocals. She is ably assisted by other artists including producer Mike Nugent on guitar, bass, dobro, and vocals, Shawn Murray on drums and percussion, and Jim Small on harmonica.   

Track by Track

The album opens on “Rising.” This is an effective intro that only foreshadows what is to come. It has some old-school sentiments and even some spiritual moments in its message but, hey, if you’re gonna preach then preach, right? Shawn Dolan guests on percussion.

The titular “Resilience” is practically a lyrical life lesson with moments both expected and unexpected. Sometimes people need to understand when it is wiser to focus on adapting or persevering rather than resisting. Richie Guerrero guests on percussion.

The next number is “The Sound Of Guitars.” It provides some insight into how she sees herself as an entertainer and even the folk music genre in general. The song repeats familiar themes and topics but it’s both more creative in the delivery and almost fun in a retro-folk way. Richie Guerrero remains on percussion.

“I Am Empty” follows. By now, even the casual listener can pick up on Bello’s tuneful trademarks. It still musically manages to go in a slightly different direction.  

“Love That’s Real” may have worked better earlier on the playlist but that’s no real criticism. This one provides a fun break from the familiar themes expressed earlier. It has its own little identity, and the listener will appreciate that.    

The sixth selection is “Killing Time.” This is one of the better songs here with a nigh universal message within the songful story. Bello can write fun songs that are effective too. 

“Coffee Shop Open Mic” is another cut concerning the folk music genre. It also reflects on her involvement in the current crew of tuneful troubadours. Undoubtedly this works well at live gigs.  

“Calling Card” continues to demonstrate both Bello’s abilities and that of her backing band. Bello and company work well together and can record tracks with an appropriate balance of music and message. More importantly, her more upbeat, personal song-stories serve as a fun foil for her more message-filled, traditionally themed tracks. (So, um, what’s your number, Josie?)  

Things slow down a bit on the closing cut “Too Many Changes.” It somehow blends previous musical elements in a new number. Once again, the listener is reminded who she is and what she does in an apt album endnote and show closer.   

Overall… 

Overall, this album of angst-instilled Americana is complete with folk-style melodies and occasionally intimate lyrics. She has more than enough writing experience to not only balance the music with the message but to melodically walk the fine line twixt angry expressions and edgy opinions. While some might quibble about the brevity of the work, it is undoubtedly welcomed by those with shorter attention spans who focus on single songs.  

On the other hand, it does follow the age-old axiom: “Always leave them wanting more.” So, check out Josie Bello’s Resilience because it’s more than just “The Sound Of Guitars.”