Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The way that Andrew Belle sees it, there's a bit of a web that sticks between he and every person that he's ever let in, close enough to brush against his skin, close enough for a kiss, close enough for a hug, close enough to bring about a sting when those ties are severed - for good reasons or bad. It's a bit of magnetism that draws the memory to those fires, to relive the passions that were there once and will always remain in a form, able to rocket us back into a past that we've only partially left behind. We're all packrats when it comes to our emotions. We pretend that they're no longer there, that we've cleared ourselves of all of that clutter, all of the pieces of our hearts that we're no longer using for anything, but we all know that, physically, that's not possible to do. It's what Belle's wrestling with on "The Ladder," his latest album. It's uncomfortable to hear the voices and feel the pangs and arms of yesterday and last year, haunting you. It's only natural to want to remain as some sort of impenetrable fortress, giving off no indications that you're affected. Belle doesn't necessarily accomplish that act of sounding and looking as if he's not still moved by those emotions and those people of the past. He's there with them and they're wherever he is as well. They're not budging and it's nothing that a decision or a resolution can change. It is the residue of that investment, of that flight of fancy, the striking moment when the lights were right. It's a toll that's been taken and shaking loose from what's been done is not in the cards. Within Belle's lyrics are the sentiments of multiple characters on the cusp of folding, of fading out, of hitting themselves over the head with their failures. They are people swinging in the breeze, exposed to it all. They are off-balance, stuck inside the wasp's nest of themselves, chanting, "I am covered in skin/No one gets to come in," but what's heard is the contradiction. Skin's easy to get through and they know it.