Bella Hardy – Postcards and Pocketbooks
One can only stand back in awe at the talent, determination and hard work it must take to produce nine full albums in a ten-year professional career. That is the fairly remarkable achievement of this still very young English folk singer. Judging by the best of these tracks, there is a very high standard of work running throughout this back catalogue. I had only a slight awareness of Bella Hardy’s work prior to this record. BBC Folk Singer of the Year, from the Peak District her music and voice have taken her around some varied and grand venues worldwide.
We have been missing a bit of a treat, a really pure voice, fresh varied mostly self-written material with some very pertinent social commentary. The production values are excellent here, all the tracks are newly remastered. The playing is note-perfect and very sweetly recorded. However, the outstanding feature is the voice and what a voice, a pure natural sound that is capable of handling a wide cross-section of styles. Twenty-seven songs in total. Ranging from a nice version of ‘Whiskey You’re the Devil’, to the ‘Herring Girl’ and other much darker tales. There is a strong influence from Bella’s Peak District but also from China and USA. Its a fine demonstration of how to embrace one’s own culture while being open to many outside influences.
This work should be required listening for any aspiring singers and indeed anyone hoping to carve out a career in the world of folk music. It illustrates the standard needed, the work required but also what can be produced. I would heartily recommend repeated listening. Lock yourself in your car with it, you will feel better when you arrive.
‘Postcards & Pocketbooks: The Best of Bella Hardy’ is available now via Bella Hardy’s website.