BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Singer Noelle Hampton and her husband/musical collaborator Andre Moran may have inspired a new twist in producer Neilson Hubbard’s usual MO. Whereas Hubbard, the proprietor of Nashville’s Mr. Lemon’s Studio, generally opts for darker designs, the duo’s approach is anything but, decidedly upbeat and brimming with bubbly enthusiasm. In some cases it takes the form of a propulsive rhythm, as in the case of “Away Away” or “Should Have Been Me,” while at other times – on the songs “Night Owl,” “Cassiopeia” and “Island” in particular — the pace dwindles down to a quiet shuffle or some other form of alluring expression.
While nothing detracts from their agreeable demeanor, the lithe designs could lead some skeptics to dismiss the Belle Sounds as unapologetic pop pundits. On the other hand, they also deserve credit for their instrumental additives. With an impressive backing band that includes Hubbard on bass and keyboards, Evan Hutchings on drums, and Glen Phillips, Will Sexton and Charlie Faye assisting with the vocals, the duo find no need to sacrifice cred for the sake of affability. Consider this eponymous debut an example of ear candy with a rich, robust center.
DOWNLOAD: “Away Away,” “Cassiopeia,” “Island”