Both Nellen Dryden and Jules Belmont grew up in musical households. For Dryden that meant singing gospel songs in church but also singing songs at her family’s music centered parties such as Lefty Frizzel’s “Long Black Veil.” Growing up, Belmont was taught to play music by a professional and began to perform live at a young age. The two met in college while playing together in a blues band. They began to play as a duo later on after Belmont had taught himself engineering and musical production.
Together this Brooklyn based duo performs as Nellen Dryden and the Visitors. On their first EP together Final Say they each play their roles perfectly. Dryden’s role as vocalist and lyricist is the perfect pairing to Belmont’s solid production skills and dreamy alt country guitar licks. These come through instantly on the opening track “Could We Just Pretend” a slow and rollicking piece of Americana. Dryden’s vocal twang pairs perfectly with Belmont’s masterful guitar work. What also help to make “Could We Just Pretend” so good are the sharp and witty lyrics. The song, which recounts an affair, contains sly lines such as “I know you you’re a smooth smooth killer/with one eye you’ll make me your dinner.”
There is quite a bit of diversity amongst these six songs as well. Take for instance the slow rolling tall tale recounted in song “Abuelita.” The song was inspired by Dryden’s great grandmother who was born in Deadwood, South Dakota, and about the supposed legends that Dryden had heard about her riding in rodeos and shooting guns.
What has become clear by now on the Final Say EP is just how much these songs, for being written by Northerners, sound as though they were written and performed by someone who grew up down South. The title track “Final Say” further helps to illustrate this point, taking its tone to a different level, more to the likes of that Bonnie Raitt style blues riffs and Dryden’s stylistic sneering twang on “Final Say.”
For all its great qualities Final Say EP is a bit lacking in the percussion department. Sometimes after several listens Final Say EP begins to sound like a half finished album of sorts and my ear wanted to hear a little beat of a drum or the soft shimmer of cymbal. However Dryden and Belmont have the final say, and these six ethereal country songs do have a lot to say if you listen closely.
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