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August 2003 Pick of the Month

Winter of Our Discontent
Artist: The Echoing Green
Label: A Different Drum
Length: 11 tracks

His musical prowess is undeniable, as the Echoing Green's Joey Belville creates syrupy sweet synth pop. Warm bass lines, aggressive beats, luscious harmonies, and beautiful melodies add up to terrific pop songs.

Known for combining the fun of '80s synth with today's electronica, it's as a lyricist that Joey B. has shown the most growth.

The band's latest, Winter of Our Discontent shows Belville has once again taken a tremendous stride forward.

Highlights include "Story of Our Lives", which is sure to be an instant classic among fans. The song alludes to heaven, as it speaks of a life lived with eternal perspective "anything and everything is meaningless when heaven's waiting."

"Fall Awake" shows the group exploring darker, yet rewarding sounds. The production is carefully orchestrated, with chirping crickets, and other effects layered together.

No Echoing Green album would be complete without a cover or two. _Winter_ is no exception. Joey B. has chosen to record "Bittersweet", a late '90s song by Velour 100. For '80s pop fans, the Echoing Green has also bent Simple Minds' "New Gold Dream" to their liking. 

Joey B. has taken another lyrical risk, for the first time writing a love song to his wife. Starting with songs like "Ambler" on the classic Hope Springs Eternal Joey's songs have increasingly become personal and poetic reflections. "Heidi's Song" features some of Joey's most winsome lyrics yet.

I can see the destiny
in your russet eyes
and I can hear a symphony
in your autumn sighs
The theme of winter is woven through the album, as Joey B. sings about the cold, grey world around him. Yet in the end, he simply longs for grace.

The Echoing Green started as a duo with Joey B. and a friend, however by the time the group's first album was released, it was as a solo project. One of the smartest things Joey B. did was to find a female vocalist to complement the sound. Chrissy Jeter does that, just as she's done on the band's last few albums. She's not merely a background singer, but often sings leads, and adds greatly to the texture of the sound as a whole. 

Joey Belville's production skills have always been good, but have never been better than they are here. Virtually everything was played, created, and recorded on a computer. Yet the album maintains a warm, joyous feel.  Not all of the songs can live up to "Story." "Heidi's Song," or "New Gold Dream" but it may well be the group's most consistent album to date.

Joey Belville and his wife Heidi recently had their first child, and with Chrissy Jeter and her new husband expecting one of their one, we may not get many more albums like this, but when we do, make sure to play it loud!

Steve White 7/21/03


 

   
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