Bea Troxel is a Nashville-born, Sewanee-bred songwriter, who extra-attentive readers might remember from the recent Ruination Records Co. compilation. Her debut album, The Way that it Feels, was released recently, and makes good on the promise of that song.
The album is an introspective one, based around big questions of where the narrator wants to be and what kind of life they want to live. In that way, it feels like a re-evaluation, the bright and hopeful result of much thought and worry. ‘Delta’ sees Troxel straight into these themes, the gentle acoustic guitar and Rita Pfeiffer’s violin providing a backdrop to her expressive vocals, invoking the Mississippi Delta in a tale of lost love. ‘Greyness’ has a similar quality, a grand and smouldering elegance detailing beginnings and ends, pain and recovery.
“Look at how the grass bends gray in the winter
and rises up again in the spring
a resurrection of things
a resurrection of me
find death where it is
but do not leave it be
treat it as life
treat it all as life”
‘Be Gone’ seems to glow and shimmer, floaty vocal harmonies flickering behind Troxel’s, while ‘Call Me Mother’ is rich with a sense of family and history (“I am my mother’s daughter,” Troxel sings, “with the bags under her eyes”). ‘Talc’ sounds fresh and tender, like a pastel pink sunset above the canyon referenced in the opening line, Matthew Singler’s drums and Luke Schneider’s pedal steel building towards a crescendo that recalls the expressive and poetic folk rock of Field Report. The song concerns love, and the beauty and vulnerability it entails, unfurling with a natural cadence that allows Troxel’s poetic writing to transmit a distinctly human warmth.
“I’m so soft the water’d
rob me dry rob me loose among
the walls of the canyon
I’m so soft
touch me and I’d fall
fall among the talc and the powder”
The title track is harder around the edges, John Cochran’s electric guitar pealing in the twilight, while ‘Let Them Know’, the beautifully meandering folk song from the Ruination Records compilation, sees Troxel ruminate on her place in the world. The track typifies the album’s blend of slow burn wisdom and persistent uncertainty, as though part of the former is fully embracing the latter, living with doubt not as something shameful or scary but a healthy, constant companion. Closer ‘Joyful’ sees such an idea crystallise, gentle and skittish guitar skating behind lyrics that deal with the strange ways that life sometimes works, its transience and its uncanny ability to set things on just the right course.
“They say a reason’s not a sign
and a light in the room is just a light
they say a sign is not a reason
that coincidence is merely noticed fact.
Right now i grapple with the signs
of when to leave and when to try
i stare so hard the waters speaking
and the bark on the branch washes away”
The Way That It Feels hits a nice balance between the weighty and the not. It’s an album as poetic and pretty as it is serious and sincere, and marks Bea Troxel as a name to watch among contemporary folk musicians.
You can get the album now from the Bea Troxel Bandcamp page.