Bud Rice‘s full-length debut Belfast is full of emotional vocal performances and well-composed songs, some of which have a soulful, bluesy rock sound and some making a foray into folk. Most of the songs that fit in the latter category, like “Through the Wind”, “Prince Edward Island” and the album’s closing song, “Who I Am,” sound like nothing more than Mumford and Sons clones. Bud’s bluesy soul-infused rock songs are where Belfast‘s strengths are hidden.
Belfast’s opening track “Maybe Tomorrow” has a driving cadence and simple bluesy guitar riffs. Its sad lyrics and intense vocal performance are given a moving extra hint of aggression with the addition of well placed distorted vocal effects. “Dyin’ to Know” is considerably lighter. Its bright horns and bouncy organ and guitar parts keep things upbeat even when Bud emotes slightly and lets his voice turn to a sexy growl. As a vocalist, Bud is charismatic and occasional soul and R&B influences give certain songs on Belfast an unexpected amount of sex appeal.
“Burlington” is a slow burning song that seems chill at first but Bud’s powerful voice and some delightfully bizarre psychedelic effects on the guitars and vocals give the song much needed sonic twists. “Meet Me In The West End” has a melancholic country vibe, an interesting extension of Bud’s folk tendencies, that reminds me of “City and Colour”.
“The Little Things” is my favorite song on Belfast because its so much fun to listen to. As a longtime music fan, I’ve noticed that there’s a strange dissatisfaction that occurs when an album features a song that incorporates an artist’s strengths and influences in a way that is never heard again. “The Little Things” is that song on Belfast and I wish the whole record sounded like it. It starts slow and sad, picks up steam and contains the album’s most natural and moving vocal performances. The punchy rhythm choices it opens with, and comes back to multiple times in the song, act as a sort of warning for the song’s range.
As a whole, Belfast didn’t do a great job of holding my attention or warranting multiple listens, but Bud’s beautiful voice and proficiency at writing fun rock songs makes me believe that with a slight shift in focus his next effort could be great all the way through.
Belfast is available on iTunes and Bud and his band will be performing August 29th at Brasserie Beaubien as a part of Passovah summer Fest. Check out Bud’s YouTube channel here and stay tuned for updates on his Facebook page here.