Bethel Steele – Of Love and Whiskey (2013)


Bethel Steele
Of Love and Whiskey

Heart achingly personal songs.

This is Boston based singer-songwriter Bethel Steele’s second album and her honeyed but fragile voice certainly captures your attention from the get go.

It has taken me several listens before I felt comfortable enough to write about the songs on OF LOVE AND WHISKEY; as they are all very intense and personal in the same style as many of the ‘bed-sit’ songwriters that the girls I grew up with, listened to; like Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon.

The album opens with the haunting piano fronted Base and the scene is set for a very introspective hour or so as Bethel pours her heart out for all to hear.

Beautiful Boy, which follows is a bit cheerier; but not by much; as she demands ‘come with me boy/bare your soul/I want to know everything’ and she perseveres until he gives in and the song ends with Mind. Body. One. We are.

There is some pretty neat Jazz influenced guitar playing throughout and especially on Sunrise, a tale of new found love doesn’t really sound as if Bethel believes it will last as she breaths the words as if they will be her last.

With Age is sung in the first person and comes from the perspective of someone looking back on their life from their death bed at 70, even though they were previously ‘given a year to live in 45’ – I can only guess that Bethel is putting herself in the mind of someone very; very close to her as the lyrics sound incredibly private and intimate.

Hard Love is a great title for a song and the intricately clever lyrics tell the harrowing tale of a woman attracted to the type of guy that is wrong for her in so many different ways; but still she cries out her love to him, his shadow and the wind.

The mood certainly perks up on the Whiskey song of the album title; but this isn’t an ode to the amber nectar but more an explanation of why she turns to the bottle instead of building a relationship with the person responsible for introducing her to this particular addiction.

OF LOVE AND WHISKEY will certainly appeal to a particular type of person but I have to warn you; there aren’t many laughs along the way.