Both gentle and strong enough to keep us on the edge of our seats for nearly four and a half minutes of play, the percussion is the first undisputed mood-setter that we come in contact with in Lisa Bell’s “Back Seat,” the title track and leadoff single from her new album, but it isn’t the last by any stretch of imagination. In “Back Seat,” Bell will use everything at her disposal both instrumentally and lyrically in her quest to captivate us with a soulful vocal and a jazzy rhythm, and while she’s exhibited this kind of ambition in past affairs, the Colorado-born songstress sounds more on-point here than she ever has before.

As striking a component as the beat is, the soft serenade is always the central draw in “Back Seat.” Bell flirts with an old world-style croon in the chorus, but in the lead-up to the song’s cathartic release, she goes straight R&B with chillingly brilliant results. It’s not necessarily a new look for her music, but in this track, she shows off a lot of duality in her balance of the grooves and the lyrics, which is something that I’ve yet to see her closest rivals both in and out of the underground replicate in their own work.

URL: https://lisabellmusic.com/

The harmonies are utterly heart-melting in a couple of spots here, and at times I think that they convey even more of emotion than the words do on their own. There’s so much to break down in relation to the tonality of this track that some listeners might find it to be just a little too overwhelming in comparison to some of the tritely simple content topping the charts lately, but for those of us with a taste for sublimely urbane pop vocals, it doesn’t often get much better than what Lisa Bell is throwing down here.

This master mix is surprisingly physical, and when juxtaposed beside some of the contemporary jazz that’s been making waves this December, it has a lot more in common with a rock n’ roll style than it does any other genre (which, to be fair, is something new for Lisa Bell’s output). It definitely makes me wonder what she sounds like live, and moreover, if her immaculate presence in “Back Seat” would translate well in a stage performance. If it does, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t deeply intrigued by the idea of seeing her in an intimate, small venue in the near future.

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There is no need for debate when it comes to the all-new single “Back Seat” and its amazing parent album of the same name; Lisa Bell has hit a grand slam in her latest release, and whether you fall in love with it because of the provocative instrumentation that it contains or the heroic harmonies created by its star, it’s a ballad that deserves all of the buzz it’s been receiving this season and then some. Bell is onto something really special here, and it would shock me if I was the only critic singing her praises this month.

Nicole Killian

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