Reviews . . .

Well, it looks like Texas has done it again. The state (that is as much a state of mind for those of us unlucky enough to not live there) has produced yet another singular voice, worthy of her place in the long line of true Lone Star State artists.I’m talking about Glenna Bell, whose new album ‘Lone Star: Songs and Stories Straight from the Heart of Texas’ (to be released on April 15, 2016) is as welcome as a rainstorm in West Texas in August… or as welcome as truth and beauty at any time here in New York City. The album is an introspective take on moments from a life lived in Texas. It is full of songs that are like chapters in a novel; a novel to be read when needing the companionship of coherence gained from experience. The flexible vocal power that Glenna Bell delivers is the only map you need. One listen to her sometimes weathered, sometimes trembling, always soulful voice and you know that she is to be trusted and believed. If I could hear the song “Shiner Bock & ZZ Top (Houston Avenue),” over and over, I bet I could drive all the way across Texas without even needing to stop at Whataburger once for relief. The song perfectly captures her unique quality—a poetic blend of confession and provocation. What a song and what a delivery. Also particularly charming is Bell’s anthem, “Proud To Be From Texas,” which comes across as a sublime tribute to Janis Joplin.Oh, Texas. We, who love authentic music can always count on you. Thank you for giving us musical offerings much more frequently than your mysterious bluebonnets bloom. Glenna Bell is a gift to be sure, and a gift to be shared.” - Greg Victor

Parcbench Live (NYC)

The front cover of Texas country singer Glenna Bell’s new CD features the singer with a man’s arm draped around her shoulder. She looks slightly sad, pensive. On the back cover the man is gone, the singer smiles. Do women need men? It is now over five years since Glenna Bell’s wildly underrated last CD, Perfectly Legal: Songs Of Sex, Love And Murder. Now Glenna Bell returns with a big new project, which deals with love, relationships, and Texas. We get seven wonderful new original songs and two well chosen cover versions. The music is book-ended with two short tracks, a brief spoken intro from the singer and to end things, a tribute to Glenna Bell’s home state of Texas, one of America’s most colourful states.A delicate guitar starts
Poor Girl (In Blue) an intimate plea for love, with an honest, emotional vocal. The singer isn’t sure her man loves her. She is more sure with So
In Love With You, a warm, passionate country, love song. It’s almost like an answer to the Poor Girl song.Of the two cover versions on Glenna Bell’s disc, Everybody’s Changing, which was originally a hit by UK band Keane is a bit of a surprise. The original hit was held together by Tim Rice-Oxley’s piano, on the new version he again plays piano. We now get a more stripped down song, with acoustic guitar/piano and a passionate Glenna Bell vocal. Country fans will clearly prefer the new version, the original is more commercial. The other cover version is Don Henley’s Heart Of The Matter a song from 1989. It’s not Henley’s best song but it fits in here very well. It is clear from Glenna Bell’s passionate vocal that she really cares about this track. The song deals with faded love, and dealing with the end of a relationship.As usual with a Glenna
Bell album we get some humour. Pig In Lipstick Blues is a wonderful bouncy slice
of country/blues. Plus Shiner Bock And ZZ Top (Houston Avenue) a very entertaining slice-of-life song. A sad track, done with a pinch of humour. This song is written by Glenna Bell, who is now on peak form in the songwriting department. She decided to slow her
life down and spend more
time alone, to write the new collection of songs. This has proved to be a wise decision, as the new tracks are some of the talented singer’s very best.It is kind of crazy that a major talent like Glenna Bell is still releasing her own discs, she is now on number five
but why is she not on a major record label? The song writing on the new album is of the highest quality, with sharp, observant lyrics, fine melodies and a few off-beat touches.The vocals on the new
CD will engage the minds of listeners but may not be to everybody’s taste. Lone Star is a big-hearted Texas winner in my book. ” - Paul Riley

Country Music People (England) - 5 Stars

Most modern country artists have no idea what being ‘country’ means--there’s more to it than your mama, whiskey, guitars and pick up trucks while you regurgitate clichés about picking up chicks in a honky tonk.  Glenna knows that it’s about telling true-life stories, emotion, and not being afraid to show the dirt under your fingernails.  She understands this very, very well.  Though there are similarities, I would hesitate to call her amazing new record ‘country’ at all, it’s ‘western’ if anything- and it’s a good time.“As life accelerates and the world becomes increasingly more complicated, I wanted to take a step back, slow down and spend more time alone at home writing this collection of songs,” says Bell. “(They’re) meant to be heard in private spaces and enjoyed from the perspective of a listener, much as a reader would consume a good book.”  That’s the way Lone Star struck me, even before I opened the bio and discovered that was her intent.Glenna’s trembling vibrato gives heart breaking songs like Poor Girl (In Blue) even more depth, and each consecutive track carries with it a feeling of truth and honesty, something that can be hard to find in country.  Lone Star was created deliberately to be an intimate experience, even as she cover’s Don Henley’s classic Heart Of The Matter.  Henley might be a better singer technically, but when Glenna sings this, it sure feels like she’s revealing a chapter of her own life.It’s doubtful you’ll hear any of these songs on contemporary country radio--too honest, too raw, extremely well played but not slick and shiny enough.  Listening to Lone Star is an experience I recommend very highly--with songs of this depth and timbre, it would be great to see her tour with Ian Tyson- another great storyteller in the western tradition.” - John Kereiff

Rock Doctor Music Reviews (4 Stars)

You don’t have to listen to more than a song or two on Bell’s latest album to conclude that she’s the real deal: she commands attention with rich, quavering vocals that convey vulnerability, and she can write, too, as demonstrated by the country originals that dominate this CD. Among them: “Poor Girl (in Blue),” about Bell’s life in Texas, and “Christmas Is Coming,” a follow-up to her successful “Be My Valentine (on Christmas).” Also here: a compelling cover of “Heart of the Matter,” the second-best song Don Henley ever recorded on his own (after “The Boys of Summer,” of course).” - Jeff Burger

No Depression (USA)

Glenna Bell is not your conventional singer-songwriter. She has a unique approach, blending stories and songs in a way that’s somewhere between talking blues and regular song structure. It’s genuinely personal, theatrically influenced and somehow balanced  between the introspective and light-hearted. The trembling yet soulful quality of her voice gives conviction to her tales, which at times read like short vignettes. There’s a bit more variety in terms of mood and tempo than her previous release, Perfectly Legal: Songs of Sex, Love and Murder, but the theatrical qualities still remain. Bell says, “As life accelerates and the world becomes increasingly more complicated, I wanted to take a step back, slow down and spend time alone at home writing this collection of songs that are meant to be heard in private spaces and enjoyed from the perspective of a listener, much as a reader would consume a good book, rather than from the vantage point of someone who is out to drink and dance the night away to the backdrop of a band.”Nonetheless (because you’re probably thinking this is an acoustic record with just Glenna and her guitar), on most of these tracks she is backed by a full band and/or prestigious players. Producer and guitarist Mark Abernathy (Sabre Rattlers) and bassist George Reiff (Ray Wylie Hubard) join her on “Poor Girl (In Blue)” and “So in Love with You.” The writer and keyboardist from the UK band Keane, Tim Rice-Oxley, joins for her cover of “Everybody’s Changing.” Austin veterans steel guitarist Mike Hardwick and drummer Rick Richards lend their touches to Don Henley’s “Heart of the Matter.” The most radio friendly tune is also the most light-hearted track, her own “Pig in Lipstick Blues” featuring the esteemed roots and bluesman Johnny Nicholas on guitar and piano. Among these compelling tracks, perhaps the one that best defines Bell’s unique story-to-song style is “Shiner Bock & ZZ Top (Houston Avenue).”Glenna Bell is a graduate of the renowned University of Houston Creative Writing Program where she studied with Pulitzer prize-winning playwright, Edward Albee. She has been honored by the State of Texas in a House resolution recognizing her musical contribution to the state as well as by many prominent Houston and Texas publications and organizations. This is her fifth album, building on the critical success and prolific radio airplay earned by 2010’s Perfectly Legal: Songs of Sex, Love and Murder. Bell’s music is intelligent, unique, and provocative. Grab yourself a glass of wine, find a quiet spot and listen up.” - Jim Hynes

Elmore Magazine (Memphis)

Lone Star-Songs & Stories Straight from the Heart of Texas:It's a Texas thing, it's got to be. Recognized by the state as one of the state's musical treasures, Bell has songs that sound like they would inspire more suicides than early Leonard Cohen but she's actually smack dab in the heart of the Townes Van Zandt Texas troubadour tradition. Except for "Marie" or "Sanitarium Blues" she pretty much out Van Zandt's Van Zandt himself. Songs like this don't always inspire you to gargle with razor blades and it's sometimes nice to know you can get close to the edge as just another observer. Wild, deep stuff firmly in the literary tradition with no dust on it, here's a shining reason of why they love her so much on her natural stomping grounds. Check it out if you dare.” - Chris Spector

Midwest Record Entertainment (Chicago)

Singer-songwriter Glenna Bell is from Beaumont, TX, where Janis Joplin, Johnny & Edgar Winter and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown saw the light. Glenna grew up on a horse farm, went with her father to rodeos and graduated from the University of Houston, where she then attended the Creative Writing Program.Glenna Bell recently released her album "Lone Star: Songs And Stories From The Heart Of Texas.” Besides the eight original songs, there are also two covers on the album. "Everybody's Changing" is a danceable ballad and a song by the English band Keane (consisting of Tom Chaplin, Tim Rice-Oxley, Richard Hughes and Jesse Quin), and on Glenna’s version of the song, the writer Tim Rice-Oxley performs on piano and harmonium. The second cover is Don Henley's "Heart Of The Matter" with George Reiff on bass, Rick Richards on drums and Mike Hardwick on steel guitar.Glenna's songs are poignant, including the opener "Poor Girl (In Blue)", as well as "Shiner Bock & ZZ Top (Houston Avenue)" and the up-tempo song "What It Was The Art Guys,” all autobiographical stories, grabbed from her life in Texas.So In Love With You" and "Tonight's The Night (We Graduate)" are upbeat, old-fashioned pop rock love songs. For "Pig in Lipstick Blues" Glenna was in the studio with Austin music scene veterans Johnny Nicholas on boogie-woogie piano and guitar, George Reiff on bass, and Rick Richards on drums.The grand finale is "Proud To Be from Texas,” an a cappella song, which ends with a smile and a final statement: “that’s it.”For writing and preparing the album, Lone Star, Glenna Bell sought silence and solitude. The result is first and foremost a genuine and authentic singer-songwriter album, which projects intimacy. Fans of this genre’s quieter roots will make hassle free time to enjoy Glenna Texan stories, of which she herself is so proud.” - Eric Schuurmans

Roots Time (Belgium)

If I’m ever down Houston way, I’m damn sure going to seek out local hero Glenna Belland her tales of Texas. She plays out a lot and you can catch her just about any night of the week. Her fifth self-released CD, Lone Star: Songs and Stories from the Heart of Texas, is possibly what Janis might have sounded like had she never left Port Arthur to become a big rock star. It’s an informal affair, filled to the brim with three chords and the truth, as they say. Actually, the chords are more plentiful than that but the truth, in this case, is unvarnished. You can dance to “Pig In Lipstick Blues” but most of this is intimate, have a sip and a toke, and listen, brother. Listen hard. “Shiner Bock & ZZ Top” might be her guilty pleasures but this gal will get to you. She covers Brit-Pop’s Keane (“Everybody’s Changing”) as well as Don Henley (“Heart Of The Matter”). She has friends from the bands of Asleep At The Wheel, Joe Walsh, Jerry Jeff Walker and Ray Wylie Hubbard on hand to spice up the mix but it’s her full-throttle yet vulnerable voice that carries the day.Lone Star makes a great companion piece to her last CD, Perfectly Legal: Songs of Sex, Love and Murder. Bell’s a ball. I wish she’d come Northeast.” - Mike Greenblatt

The Aquarian (New Jersey)

Tonight's the Night (We Graduate)Writer: Glenna Bell; Publisher: Glenna Bell, ASCAP; GB (track)Texas favorite Bell has a throaty, distinctive vocal style. Her records always perk up my ears. This outing is about young lovers graduating from high school. She recalls their courtship and vows to go all the way on their big night. I hung on every word. Her new collection is aptly titled Lone Star: Songs and Stories Straight From the Heart of Texas.” - Robert K. Oermann

Music Row (Nashville)

5 minutes with Country Music Artist Glenna Bell About your careerQ:  What is your fondest musical memory?A:  I noticed right away that these questions really make one have to think, which is constructive, but there are so many memories, highlights, etc. it seems impossible to choose just one—sort of like asking someone which child is your favourite? What comes to mind off the top of my head is two musical memories from my early years when we lived in East Texas in Lumberton, near the Big Thicket, and we would sing a cappella as a congregation in the little church in the woods and when we would visit my mother’s side of the family in Orange, Texas in the Golden Triangle near Port Arthur, the birthplace of Janis Joplin, where we would sing at family gatherings with generations of relatives playing popular and occasionally original songs on the piano, representing the pop culture of their respective eras, dating all the way back to the twenties. Q:  What has been the highlight of your career?A:  Thankfully, there have been many highlights, but one that comes to mind is receiving the House Resolution honouring my musical contribution to the State of Texas at the Texas state capital in Austin.A more recent highlight would be the day that I spent in the studio with John Pickering who sang the backing vocals on several Buddy Holly hits and our lunch with Sonny West (who wrote “Oh Boy” and “Rave On”) at the little Mexican restaurant on legendary Telephone Road here in Houston.  There’s also the time I played Threadgill’s in Austin to a crowd who compared me to Janis Joplin as they remembered her performances there in the early-to-mid ‘60s and the Johnny Cash Bash at the Continental Club in Austin with Johnny Cash’s long-time piano player Earl Poole Ball accompanying me in an impromptu version of “Get Rhythm” in front of a packed house with standing room only and hundreds of Johnny Cash fans dressed in black, lined up around the corner outside the front door on Congress.  There are the memories of playing here and there and everywhere, New York and Nashville, with people I knew and didn’t know at all.  The on going shows with Greg Henkel on his incredible vio-fiddle.  The record store, Bill’s, in Dallas.  Cosmos Café in Houston.  Y’all come!  There is no place like home.   Q:  Your latest album ‘Lone Star: Songs and Stories Straight from the Heart of Texas’ has recently been released. Which song from the album means the most to you and why?A:  I’d say “Pig in Lipstick Blues” means the most to me at the moment because I’ve caught a bad case of the blues, and that song showed me that, yes, I can “bring it” both as a writer and singer. Q:  Do you ever get nervous before you go on stage?A:  No, I just “wing it.”  Live in the moment.  Be yourself.  Forget about yourself.  You’re there for the audience.  Not yourself.  Lift them up. Q:  What piece of advice can you give to aspiring country music artists?A:  Read.  Read real books, not online.  Listen to “old music,” preferably on a record player.  Get unhooked.  Be in Nature as much as possible with no distractions.  Write.  Listen to the music of the birds and the breeze in the trees.  Lie down alone in a field of grass and star gaze or watch the clouds go by in the sky.  Dream.  Find your voice.  Give yourself time.  Get in touch with something beyond this material world.  Be willing to stretch and try new things within the limits of your sense of ethics and morality.  Always listen to your deep inner voice.  Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing anything that would go against your personal or artistic convictions.  Learn to know yourself and don’t compromise yourself or your art.  Stay humble and authentic.  Don’t try to take shortcuts to success—you will undermine everything.  Build your house on a rock.  Think long term and do what it takes to set things up for longevity so that you can continue to do what you love for a lifetime.  Accept criticism gracefully but learn who and who not to listen to.  Some people are well meaning and very convincing because of their credentials and years in the business, but they don’t know.  Stop and help a stray dog.  Help a young person.  Help an old person.  Help a homeless person.  Make yourself a helping person and you will then know the joy of giving, which is the key to performance.  Be open-minded.  Don’t stereotype people.  It is a huge mistake.  Don’t be an artist unless you just cannot not be.  Don’t do it for the money.  Most likely, you will be very disappointed in the end.  Endure.  And just for fun…Q:  If you could sing a duet with any country artist in the world (past or present) who would it be? A:  George Jones Q:  Pick a song title for the story of your life…A:  Moon River Q:  You have the chance to time travel to any gig or concert that has ever taken place – which one would it be?  A:  Newport Folk Festival, 1965 Q:  What was the first record you ever bought?A:  My very earliest recollection of “buying” records was when I was so young that I can’t even recall the first one.  I even called my mother but she can’t remember either.  I know that it was at the mall in Beaumont, Texas and that it could have been “The Entertainer” or “Candy Man” by Sammy Davis, Jr.  Maybe John Denver’s “Country Boy.”  Through my dad’s record collection I discovered The Gunfighter Ballads and through my Auntie’s collection I learned to love and laugh, dance and sing with my little sister to songs like “Sugar Time,” “Charlie Brown,” and “Short People.”  I also loved the story songs like “Please Pass the Biscuits” and Andy Griffith’s comedic monologue, “What It Was Was Football.”  When I l was older I was profoundly affected by George Jones’s “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and Buddy Holly’s “Raining in My Heart.”   Q:  Tell us something that will surprise us?A:  I recently found out that I have had about 700,000 streams on Spotify for the last two consecutive seasons for my holiday song, “Be My Valentine (On Christmas).”  As an independent artist, this news came as a surprise to me.” - Natalie Allera Harris

5 Minutes With . . . Q&A (Scotland)