20 October 2011

Review: Bella Kalolo 'Without The Paper'

Without The Paper
[Bella Sounds]

There's something about Bella Kalolo's debut solo album Without The Paper I just can't quite put my finger on. It's not the part-Samoan, part-Tongan, part-Maori songstress' velvety voice, which drapes itself languorously over mellow soul as srikingly as it tears through heavy funk stylings. It's not The Soul Symphony, the crack backing band - whose number includes master drummer Darren Mathiassen (Trinity Roots, Hollie Smith) and Bella's husband Alistair Isdale - as they're skin-tight and razor-sharp throughout. And it's certainly not her pedigree, as Bella recently performed at Glastonbury and has worked extensively as a vocalist for the last ten years performing and/or recording with Don McGlashan, Dave Dobbyn, Fat Freddy's Drop and Nathan Haines, among many others. Ultimately though, what lets the album down is the song writing, as too many of these tracks sound too derivative for Without The Paper to be anything other than a solid, but enjoyable debut.

2 and 1/2 stars from 5

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