After more than three overcast years, the sun is beginning to shine favorably on The Belle Weather. The Sheboygan-based band first earned some awareness with 2013’s Hold On, 11 fair-to-middling songs firmly enveloped in the already-well-represented folk-rock sub-genre. In the years since that inauspicious origin, though, The Belle Weather has pared down its lineup, reined in its sound, and managed to do much more with less with its excellent and emotive new follow-up, Suitcase.
Now operating as a duo, The Belle Weather eschewed all percussion this time around and, instead, fashioned 14 songs centered around a self-described “reserved” sound that hinges largely on singer-guitarist Eric Cox’s distinct—at times, vaguely Bono-like—vocals, striking melodies, and the refreshingly simplistic instrumentation (compliments of Cox and bassist Tom Abromaitis). “Hurricane” slowly opens Suitcase up and hearkens back to Cox’s time in Louisiana before ushering in the bleary dive bar ditty “Roulette” and the chugging title track thereafter. Though a cover of Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” temporarily throws the record’s upward trajectory off course midway through, “Ghost” hangs like a specter with barren strumming and haunting harmonies before “Serendipity” takes Suitcase in for a careful acoustic landing.
Ironically, The Belle Weather needed to dismantle something semi-functional and discard some parts in order to build something worthwhile. Listen to Suitcase below before The Belle Weather’s release show at Club Garibaldi on Saturday, November 21.