Lone Star Songs and Stories Straight from the Heart of Texas runs from the solemnity of “Poor Girl (In Blue” and “Everybody’s Changing” to the Texas seriousness of “Shiner Bock & ZZ Top” to the slapstick of “Pig in Lipstick Blues” without missing a literal beat or batting an eye, the sign of a true artist. She’s serious but she doesn’t take the art too seriously. Honestly, Bell is quite an amazing artist and human being, and I am honored to know her.
“Poor Girl (In Blue)” is the typical story of a young woman from the country venturing to the city for the first time. Fortunately, it’s not typical of those Death-Folk songs that Nick Cave and others are so fond of covering. The lyrics are hopeful, doubtful, and skeptical, but the guitar riff keep drawing me in to something deeper, a short little mesmerizing riff with echoes of jazz guitar or perhaps of Willie Nelson, whom I recently learned has always been a huge fan of the greatest guitarist who ever lived. For the uninitiated, that’s the one and only Django Reinhardt. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bell listens to Django on occasion. Her appreciation of music is vast, and she has introduced me to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, among others.
“Everybody’s Changing” is a heart-wrenching lament of time passing one by as people grow and get older and either watch everyone passing by or attempt to keep up. This one might be a tear-jerker and the minimalist accompaniment of the piano accents this effort, beautifully. “Tonight’s the Night (We Graduate)” appeared in a few places as a touching, bittersweet music video. It’s also a sort of lamentation of the passing of time for the younger set. The memory of high school sometimes evokes a petulant and pleasant memory of adolescence that I never really had and I am envious of the motion picture that is playing in my head listening to this track.
Every holiday season, one of Bell’s seasonal songs, “Be My Valentine (On Christmas),” gets a significant amount of play. On Spotify and elsewhere It’s destined to be a classic, if it isn’t already. But, there is another Christmas track that already vibes like the older classics that I love from the gift-giving season on this album, “Christmas Is Coming.” It is already a classic to my ears. It has the urgency of attempting to get to Granny’s house through the woods and the snow on time before Christmas dinner gets cold, only this might be from the urgency of getting to holiday dinner through the expanse of wide-open Texas. This might be my favorite track on the album and one that I hope someone someday records a proper cover to pay it and Bell the homage they both deserve.
Glenna Bell has released one album since this one, so it might be worth visiting her website for more information. And, if you sign up for her email, you’ll get to enjoy that adorable close to all of her missives as much as I always do.
Oh, and if you love independent radio, Bell is now hosting an eclectic radio sbow over at KPFT on Saturday mornings from 0800 to 1000, Houston, TX local time. Giver her a listen and giver her a call and make a request. I am hopeful she’ll spin some Sister Rosetta at some point.
RadioMike, 7 August 2023