The BellRays | Have Little Faith (Cheap Lullaby)

All of the songs on the album are written either by Fate or Vennum, but it’s clearly Kekaluah that stands out. She belts these songs like she owns ’em. Props must be given, though, to the three guys for matching Kekaluah’s swagger. The end result is certainly greater than the sum of its parts.

 

The BellRays have been up to some new tricks. And as usual, the result is the sonic equivalent of a punch in the head. The BellRays’ newest disc, Have a Little Faith, is a haphazard collection of 13 songs that run the gamut from balls-out rockers to soulful bluesy numbers. They are constantly described by the press as “Tina Turner meets the Stooges,” and for good reason. The passionate and soulful vocals that spill out of singer Lisa Kekaluah’s throat hearken back to the day when singers had more than just a dollop of talent and looks to get them by. She’s a bonafide powerhouse of raw energy, and when she sings, you have no choice but to take notice. Backing her is the “garage-punk” component of the consortium: Tony Fate on guitar, Bob Vennum on bass, and Craig Waters on drums. These three provide the perfect backdrop of loud and melodious music for Kekaluah’s soaring vocals. Their music is definitely hook heavy, but when it’s this good, that’s quite all right.

Kicking off the disc is the funky “Tell the Lie,” which, from note one, lets you know you’re in for something special. They don’t disappoint with tracks such as “Chainsong (I’ve Been Searching),” which practically reaches out of your speakers and slaps you across the face, and “Have a Little Faith in Me,” which tones down the loud guitar assault a bit to let Kekaluah’s talents shine. They pick things back up with “Detroit Breakdown, ” a hot and sweaty number that makes one think of the storied MC5. This segues into an almost incongruous horn interlude that somehow doesn’t sound out of place one bit. “Lost Disciples” shows the band’s more melodious side, complete with velvety vocals and tribal-like percussion.

The second to last song, “Third Time’s the Charm,” sounds like it could’ve come from the legendary Muscle Shoals recording studio during its heyday, and is a welcome change of pace from the frenetic energy of the previous songs. The final cut, “Beginning From the End,” is an interesting mishmash of all the styles found on the disc. Despite its start-stop time signature and weaving of different genres, the song works as a bookend to the album in a way that makes perfect sense.

All of the songs on the album are written either by Fate or Vennum, but it’s clearly Kekaluah that stands out. She belts these songs like she owns ’em. Props must be given, though, to the three guys for matching Kekaluah’s swagger. The end result is certainly greater than the sum of its parts.

The band seems idealistic, which in today’s climate is hard to maintain. Kekaluah sings: “I wanna change the world/I wanna change it right now/I wanna make myself better/I wanna tell the truth.” Truth is, if people pick up this CD, the BellRays might accomplish just that.


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