For Kris Truelsen, founding member of roots group Bill and the Belles, songwriting comes in “short frenzied bursts.” His new song, “Taking Back My Yesterday,” is no exception.
“Taking Back My Yesterday” resounds triumphantly, yet the lyrical messaging leaves less to celebrate. The song, he says, “is for anyone who’s ever felt that they’ve been taken advantage of or felt powerless in a relationship.”
He continues, “It’s my version of a ‘Hit the Road Jack’ but rather than Ray Charles, think Bob Wills cutting loose with a cigar in hand waving bye-bye. We cut this one together live in one room giving it that frenetic—in a good way—feel. It harkens back to some of the foundational early country sounds of when the band was initially founded.”
An ode to letting go, the fiddle-driven track looks optimistically toward the future.
Much of their forthcoming record project was written in a similar vein. In the wake of Truelsen’s divorce, he penned the 11-track collection in just a few months. Happy Again, released May 21 on Ditty Doom Records, marks a new chapter not only for Truelsen but also for the band.
“Coming out of a volatile relationship at the time, I had an incredibly therapeutic and inspiring surge of creative energy,” the artist explains. “I found the songs just kept coming. I realize those kind of moments don’t come often and are out of my control entirely but paying close attention as to when it’s actually time to get focused to sit down to write is key.”
His divorce is the glaring core of the collection. However, this personal loss turned out to be a creative boon for the band. Following consecutive album releases—Swallowtail Coat the Cylinder Recordings in 2017 and DreamSongs, Etc. in 2018—Happy Again steps into a tongue-in-cheek type of sadness that points to something brighter and more broad. Somewhere between grief and jubilation, the track list strikes a universal chord.
The title track encapsulates the spirit of the project with a sarcastic inventory of existential woes, while “People Gonna Talk” profiles some of the frustrations of small-town living. “Make It Look Easy” is both an anthem for apathy and a proper “get lost” to those who’ve got something to say about your life choices.
Their raw songcraft along with the deft production touch of Teddy Thompson, makes Happy Again a modern guidebook for grief, penned and performed in a vintage musical form.
Listen to “Taking Back My Yesterday” below. Download or stream Bill and the Belles’ latest album Happy Again, here.
Photo by Billie Wheeler