Jo Beth Henderson is... Bellafeather

Glowing Records, 2006

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Having had the privilege and the fun of seeing Bellafeather at Austin’s Pagan Pride Day 2006, I really wanted to capture the essence of her debut CD, Inundare, in this review. Unfortunately, there’s a problem with that; capturing Bellafeather’s sound is like capturing a will-o-the-wisp or bottling a Scottish pukka. Every time I think I had it nailed down, the damn thing changed. At various times on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Inundare, she dabbles in Ani diFranco, XTC, King’s X, Joni Mitchell’s jazz phase, Thelma Houston, BOTH the Wainwrights, Michelle Shocked, Joan Baez, and goddess-knows-what-else.

This is not to say that Bellafeather is a dilettante. Far from it, she’s an incredibly talented songwriter, a multi-talented instrumentalist (she plays everything on Inundare save the drums, earning her the Jude Cole Memorial Overachiever Award), and a fine singer with an earthy alto growl that nevertheless occasionally arches triumphantly over the music. There’s a lot of power in her music, a lot of emotion, and it shows in the complicated harmonies and the simple elegance and strength of the music.

The production is clean and spare without being overly complicated; occasional moments of richness (specifically, the piano and insistent dance rhythms on “All Its Done”) serve as a welcome change of pace, the auditory equivalent of a palate-cleanser between courses.  Inundare is indeed about being drowned, flooded, and suffused with sound (and more than a little fury), and it’s wonderfully done.

Specific tracks worth highlighting include the aforementioned “All Its Done”, the crunchy grunge of “Not About Me,”  the passion and anger of “No Lie No Lie,” and the pure Texas cussedness of “Kiss My Ass” (which is not at ALL kid –friendly, but funnier than hell).

Bellafeather is a strong woman. Inundare is a strong album and a strong statement, and I recommend checking it out.

Rating: A-

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© 2008 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Glowing Records, and is used for informational purposes only.