With this set of introspective songs, given a fully up to date roots delivery, Bella White shines as a rising star on the Americana firmament.
Despite being Canadian, Bella White perfectly captures the high lonesome sounds of the Appalachians on her second album ‘Among Other Things’. Sounding much older (and maybe or maybe not wiser) than one might expect from a 22 year old, White is at times quite mesmerising on this collection of questing songs, none more so than on the exquisite yearning of ‘Dishes’. Tentative slide guitar and a lonesome fiddle ripple through the song as White ponders on whether to leave a sweet little domestic set up for more adventurous climes. She’s trepidatious, will the grass on the other side really be that much greener? Besides, she’s still besotted with her current companion. Should I stay or should I go? the song asks.
Indecision permeates several of the songs. The opening number, ‘The Way I Oughta Go’, a fine red dirt country song, finds White once again pondering as she considers whether to return to her parents’ home state of North Carolina or follow her muse to Nashville. ‘Flowers On My Bedsite’ opens with White singing, “Well I fled the town that I was born in,” the remainder of the song is suffused with ennui, or, more properly, a pessimism as she reckons that “I’m afraid my glass is often empty.” Doubts remain on one of the more upbeat songs here, ‘Numbers’, which finds White on the road, thinking of her dishwashing partner she’s left behind and relying on the advice and the occasional flowers her mother sends her. ‘Worth My While’, a gorgeous, almost countrypolitan song with sweet honey slide pedal steel trots along quite brilliantly as White seems to have arrived at her final destination, a destination which ultimately doesn’t deliver any answers. On the penultimate title song White is still in a quandary with a hand of fate on her shoulder, pushing her onwards even as she wonders whether she should have taken another path.
Amidst the questing, White and her band play quite brilliantly throughout with the songs dancing daintily between high Appalachia, bluegrass and honky tonk. White’s voice is quite commanding, full of emotion and hugely expressive while her lyrics are reminiscent of Joni Mitchell’s confessionals on ‘Blue’. Tying it altogether, producer Jonathan Wilson adds some L.A. gloss to the songs while never straying far from their elemental roots.