David Belle New Album ‘The Beginning’

An award-winning film producer who turned his artistic David Belle’s credentials as a singer/songwriter is obvious after hearing his ten-track collection The Beginning. It’s astonishing how easily Belle’s vision translates from the visual to the aural, and such an auspicious debut effort promises that even greater triumphs await in the future. He’s recorded the album with a core group of lead singer Josie Maran, backing vocalist Rafi, and Grammy-award winning harmonica master Charlie McCoy. Drummer Lorenzo Meynardi and pianist/organist Riccardo Gresino round out the lineup.

The album opener, “Free”, has an unusual tone. Mixing the spoken-word flavor of the verses with straight-up singing during the refrain creates an initially incongruous effect. However, it isn’t jarring or unpleasant and gets under your skin in a relatively quick fashion. Framing this vocal presentation against a sinewy rock music backdrop is a shrewd move. Belle’s choices for arranging and instrumentation place us in familiar territory that helps smooth over any bumpiness we may experience.

Swampy electrified blues fuels “All Together as One”. Belle burns the midnight lamp bright during this performance, and his bandmates respond with gritty, soulful skill. Investing the vocals with a self-consciously dramatic quality could work against the material, but it’s atmospheric rather than laborious and accentuates the bluesy accompaniment. The vocals are a high point for “Connection”. Maran’s voice achieves an effortless gravitas counterpointed well by Rafi’s backing vocals. The arrangement once again embraces a bluesy pedigree, but it’s flavored with cunning nuances that elevate it above cliché.

The lonesome wail of Charlie McCoy’s harmonica is a marquee element of “Wanna Take a Ride”. It acts as another “voice” threaded through the song’s molasses crawl and pairs well with another outstanding lead vocal. Theatrical qualities abound throughout the album’s singing, but they possess a hushed and moody character that disdains unnecessary bluster. “Follow Me Down” wheels out Belle’s rock influences for a muscular, hard-hitting workout. However, such an approach never undercuts the lead vocal to afterthought status. This ranks high among the album’s possible “sleeper” tracks and deserves the listener’s attention.

“Innocent One” has a strong cinematic tone. The arrangement takes several twists and turns in a short amount of time without ever sounding rushed. We can attribute much of the song’s strengths to Belle’s command of songwriting dynamics; intelligent orchestration defines much of the track. However, it never sounds inert or overcooked. “Got a Good Feeling” ends the release in an arguably atypical fashion.


Some listeners may expect a rousing curtain closer. Perhaps even an anthemic finale. It wouldn’t be in character with the preceding eight tracks. Belle maintains the album’s artistic direction with a textured and stylized bluesy conclusion punctuated by striking guitar work. Six-string aficionados will love David Belle’s The Beginning, and this song is a near-perfect illustration of why. The same songwriting excellence propelling the collection to this point continues throughout “Got a Good Feeling” and ends the release memorably. This is one of 2024’s most evocative and intelligent outings.