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The Whistles & The Bells
The Whistles & The Bells is the nome de song of Nashville-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Bryan Simpson. His debut full-length album, released in 2015 on New West Records (Steve Earle, Ben Folds, Nikki Lane), is an accomplished effort that threads together rousing indie rock, southern folk, gritty alt-country and gospel to create a rich musical tapestry that matches the intense soul searching of his evocative and poetic lyrics.
Recorded with Grammy Award winning engineer Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Thile, Buddy Guy), the eponymous album’s musical experimentation and exploration calls to mind Wilco’s opus, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, while the powerful introspection and conviction reminds of Buddy Miller’s beloved, Universal United House of Prayer. “Mercy Please” both kicks off the album and exemplifies the record’s scope and Simpson’s “blind man walking approach” that he often takes in his genre blurring songwriting. The track begins with a fingerpicked acoustic guitar, loping bass line and the protagonist decrying, “If we are what we eat/ then my future it is scary/ for I have been scarfing down the pages of the devil’s dictionary” giving way to drums, electric guitar, banjo and female backing vocals as he pleads for “just a little bit more mercy please.” As the song progresses, it gloriously unravels – instruments start to detune and slow – before it roars to an exhilarating climax featuring Latin trumpets over frenetic banjo playing and crashing drums. The effect is startling – that of a strange house of cards on the verge of collapse but which always manages to build itself back up again.
1 Cannery Row, Nashville, TN 37203