Some really great and successful acts have been popping out of Regina lately- Rah Rah and Library Voices to name a few. But while those bands have got the indie rock and “pop” sounds down pat, Belle Plaine represents a genre not often associated with the prairie province- jazz.
This album is definitely one to hear if you want a change. Plaine is backed up by a pretty kickass backing band with a piano, a trumpet, an electric guitar, drums and upright bass. There’s also the occasional vibraphone and ukulele, making for a very smooth sound overall.
The title track is definitely one of the most interesting, detailing an all-too-true account of what it’s like working as a waitress. Most telling is the line “Son of a bitch, he called in sick for the second time this week.” Most interesting is Plaine’s use of scat singing, something that immediately reminded me of Ella Fitzgerald.
Despite the frustration expressed in the song (and others), the tone of the album is overall pretty cheery. The album closer, for instance, “To the Best of Our Memories,” is a song about a breakup. But the way it’s dealt with is so cheery it’s almost disarming. It’s referred to as “the end of our season” and “the end of the attraction.” It’s also got some great mini-call and response with the trumpet.
The album opener “Sweet Tart” stays true to its name- it’s a sweet start to the album. It introduces the oh-so-cool backup band, namely the piano and upright bass, along with some well-timed finger snaps.
Not the whole album is necessarily completely cheery though. The songs “Port Angeles” and “Vegas” tone things down a little. The former provides a snapshot of a place in time while the latter tells the story of someone trying to make it big in show business.
Notes From a Waitress was a pleasant change of pace for me and I loved the fusion of Plaine’s voice with the cool backup band. Recommended for anyone looking for a different kind of listen.
The album is available via Bandcamp.
Top Tracks: “Notes From a Waitress (Thanks Bulgakov); “Old Love”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)