During his recent visit to Baeble HQ, Chicago/Nashville singer-songwriter Andrew Belle slayed us with the soothing atmospherics and heap of heart that pumps through three songs from his most recent album Black Bear. He also talked openly about what motivates him as an artist, revealing new inspirations found in faith and how that differs from when he first started playing music as a 21-year-old college student.
That version of Belle would certainly be a little blown away by the artist he's become, sitting in New York on a late fall day, shuffling through a variety of press obligations before taking the stage for a headlining gig at The Highline Ballroom. When Belle first got into music he never dreamed of such opportunities. Instead, the appeal was writing, putting pen to paper and arranging chords around his ideas. The singing part, the performing...those aspects were less intuitive. Once he learned though, modest goals suddenly seemed possible. "In my head I always thought if I could sell enough records or travel around playing enough shows that people came and we were able to make a livingthat was the dream." Reflecting on such pure, young ambitions seems to humble Belle. He made it happen. Now there were bigger things to conquer with his new album, primarily his faith.
"I was going through a lot of change and development in my personal life," explains Belle. "I really kind of felt like I became a Christian for the first time in my life—That was life changing." Belle also couldn't help but shuffle some of those feelings into the new album. "When I approach my songwriting process it's always autobiographical—so there is a lot of coming to terms with big difficult questions and a lot of wrestling with this idea of God."
On paper, Black Bear might sound like a "Christian" album, but Belle's struggles manifest in more subtle ways. He masks songs like "Pieces", "Black Bear", and "Sister", which he performed in the session, in ways where the messaging is a little more open to interpretation...a writer's trick that might be the result of conversations with fans about past recordings. "I think sometimes people take away stuff from your songs that you didn't even intend, but that's kind of the beauty and magic of it."
Belle also knows not every listener is in for as deep a connection to his music as others. "I hope people put it in and they are drawn to the music and it feels good and they are interested and excited by the production on the surface level."
All of which is a refreshing/interesting way to talk about music inspired by faith. Belle understands music can mean different things to different people. How a listener wants to carry the weight of Black Bear seems entirely up to them, making this an album with dare I say, universal appeal. Find out what it means to you. Pick up Black BearHEREand dive into our most recent session with Andrew.