Belle of the Fall 'Rise Up' to the Occasion (album premiere)

Photo: Mike Marques

With their lilting harmonies and lustrous melodies, the indie folk duo bring their voices to the ever-spinning news cycle of social and political frustration on their latest album.

Belle of the Fall's latest album was developed with particular precision. It was their intent to Rise Up to the occasion, to bring their voices to the ever-spinning news cycle of social and political frustration. In that sense, the songs of which the duo's sophomore effort are comprised evoke the spirit of Greenwich-era folk music, rising in protest to dish commentary on what divides us. Musically Tracy Walton and Julia Ford offer some instances of intimacy, and contemporary approaches bring them in line with the modern indie folk circuit.

The album, which releases on 6 April via Sonic Trepanation, is equal parts sugar-dusted and glum. This isn't to say that there is a triteness to the music that they develop, but that the duo's innate knack for harmonic innovation lends itself well to an emotional ebb and flow. Their vocals mesh and meld perfectly with one another's as they gracefully dance across breezy, shimmering melodies. It makes for an album that, in spite of its heavier themes of coming together to face adversity, also goes down smooth.

Walton took part in a brief Q&A with PopMatters to discuss Rise Up.

Who or what were some influences when developing Rise Up?

We have been a bit obsessed lately with Simon & Garfunkel so it seems like that sound has spilled into what we do a bit. They are at such another level. That said, Julia may have been the biggest influence on this album with the last song she wrote for our first album, which was the title track, "Earthbound". It set us down the darker path that we explored on this album and has really defined our sound as of late. This album has a much more cohesive sound to it.

Any cool, funny, or interesting stories from writing and recording the album?
"Spinning Around the Sun" had some interesting moments for sure. If you listen closely in the beginning, you can hear a plane fly over right before Julia starts the guitar. It just seemed to be timed so well that we left it in.

We cut all of our vocals live together and try to make them all one take. For "Spinning Around the Sun", Julia cut the vocal well over 100 times and just couldn't seem to get the magic we were going for. As an engineer, I often suggest to people who are more guitar players that happen to sing, that they might be more comfortable cutting vocals with their guitar on, even if they aren't playing. Julia is a brilliant singer who happens to play guitar really well, so it never dawned on me to try it with her. She actually suggested we try it and the first take she sang with her guitar on is the one you hear on the album. Live and learn.

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