If there’s one thing that could be said about Bello Spark’s new album, Among The Lights, it would be that it is honest.
“I believe our music conveys the beauty in simplicity, the power of harmonies, and the stories of mid-west lifestyle,” said Jay Kolk, percussionist.
Listening to the new album, it is impossible not to feel the music deep in your soul, and that is a powerful thing. Among The Lights features a mixture of joy and sadness, of desperate longing and personal growth, but more than anything, it speaks directly to its listeners. Dual male and female vocals from Rob Jordan and Cole Hansen give Among The Lights a haunting feel that can be either mournful or joyous, forcing the listener to travel the same musical range of emotions as its artists.
“These songs are a reflection of who we were and what we were feeling at a specific moment in time. In recording them, we aim to capture the same emotions we felt when we wrote them and hopefully connect with the listener in that way,” said Hansen.
“Ninety-five percent of the time, I write from personal experience,” said Jordan, whose songs include themes such as love, loss, and perseverance through the craziness that is life. “I love hearing my songs come to life with other people. I enjoy releasing music that someone can hopefully benefit from.”
Tory Peterson, lead guitarist, describes his sound as almost atmospheric, but what it really is, is emotional. Peterson’s understated electric accompaniment is the kind of mellow sound that drifts through a song, slipping its way into the mind almost unseen before unleashing with a raw, almost visceral feel. Listening to his soulful riffs is a journey for both the heart and the mind.
“Live, we have had the most success and best reception in music-centric venues where dynamics and nuance is most appreciated. We have all been in loud bar-rock bands, but that’s not what Bello Spark is,” said Peterson.
Bello Spark may not be “loud,” but they have a big sound, with rich acoustic guitar and an uplifting, stomp your feet beat. Not to mention the huge vocals of powerhouse singer Cole Hansen, whose wide range can lift you nearly out of your seat before dropping you into a well of deep emotion.
“Our fans are normal people,” said Hansen, “weird people, people who have hurt, people who have loved, who have failed, who have picked themselves up again, those who love fearlessly, and are energized by positivity.”
Bello Spark is a band of veteran musicians, each with years of experience that have been brought to bear on this album. Rob Jordan, singer and rhythm guitar player, describes the formation of their band as being more like the making of a family, with each member having a deep respect for the other.
“We are close friends and care about each other’s happiness. Bands fail when that is ignored. We all respect and enjoy everyone’s talent and input.”
Bello Spark was initially formed by guitarist and sound engineer Tory Peterson, and guitarist and singer Rob Jordan. They recorded their first album in a basement studio. Since their humble beginnings as a duet, Bello Spark has expanded to include Cole Hansen, singer and songwriter; Jay Kolk, percussionist; and Joe Chamberlin on bass. Guest musician Zach Guy of Simien The Whale recorded bass tracks on much of the new album. Bello Spark won Best Album By A New Artist at the 2013 WYCE Listener’s Choice music awards.
The new album, Among The Lights, which the band will release in July of 2016 is a mellow mix of folk and rock Americana, rich with emotion and without compromise or pretense. Jordan describes their sound as a confluence of Death Cab For Cutie and The Civil Wars.
“If those two bands had a baby, we might be the result,” said Jordan. Two of Jordan’s favorite tracks on the new album are I’m Awake and Traveling Companion, both songs about love and intimacy, and the strength of companionship. Their creative process is very inclusive, drawing upon each member’s strengths.
“Rob and Cole bring a tune to the table and we experiment with it. We find the right vibe and bounce ideas around. We jam on them to help each song find its home … without everyone’s input, they wouldn’t be what they are.”
Most everything is handled by the band, even the production of their albums. “I am the resident audio nerd,” said Peterson. “I handle all of the recording, production, and mixing. I really enjoy the puzzles it presents, and sculpting a finished track out of all of the bits and pieces.”
As a band, Bello Spark tries not to take themselves too seriously, noting that sometimes egos can be just as destructive as a bad track. Their focus is good music and good quality, making connections and pouring every bit of themselves into their work.
“We all really care about the quality of our sound – as individuals and as a band. I think our sound is really unique,” said Hansen, noting that creating unique harmonies that both complement as well as contrast, and paying special attention to their musical dynamics, has forced them all to not only grow as artists, but to push their work to a higher level.
Following the release of Among The Lights, Bello Spark hopes to expand its presence in West Michigan, and keep touring throughout the Midwest. When asked what their long term goals were, Jordan said they want to keep things simple. “We want to keep making music and having fun.”
Bello Spark’s live show is intimate and engaging and the band itself is very approachable. “There should never be hesitation to come up and chat with us after the shows,” Kolk said. “We love making friends and meeting new people.”
Among The Lights will be released on July 9, 2016. There will be an album release show at Long Road Distillers in Grand Rapids, Michigan on July 9. Everyone who attends the show will receive a CD copy of the new album.
Bello Spark’s music can be found at all major online stores including Amazon, iTunes, and Bandcamp. They can also be found streaming on Pandora, Spotify, and iTunes Music.
Jason LaVelle is a writer and dog lover from Holland, Michigan.