REVIEW: Josie Bello “Have Purpose Live Long” Speaks From the Heart


Josie Bello has a new album out: Have Purpose Live Long. The record was produced and recorded by Mike Nugent at Melts In Your Ears Studio; mixed by Kevin Kelly at The Workshoppe East; and mastered by Mike Kalajian at Rogue Planet Mastering.  Personnel on the album are Josie Bello on vocals, keys and accordion and Mike Nugent on guitars, bass, banjo, and ukulele.   Drums are various, by Shawn Murray, Ian Petillo, Jonathan Mele, with some percussion by Richie Guerrero. Fiddle is by Tom Fraiolo and Kelly and Kat contribute backing vocals.

“I wanna live honest” are the perfectly fitting opening lines of the album, on its title track, as that sentiment is bouyed thoughout the entire project by Bello’s honest, raw vocal tones.

“Magic of the Music” is a swaggering blues number and “Not the America I Knew” is a haunting folk ballad, probing our souls for a light of generosity. Bello has brilliant lines, like her noting that “the statute of limitations” has run out on “the Statue of Liberty.” “When I Bleed” follows up on more deeply painful social commentary with: “I don’t know why we only look at the outside.”

“Party with the Saints” is an uptempo old-time country song with an irresistible blend of fiddle by Tom Fraioli and Bello on accordion. “Twenty-Five Years” spotlights the ennui winding through the shared history of a twenty five year relationship, even as the value of decades of shared experiences shines through.

Have Purpose Live Long is an album that’s grounded in truth and speaking from the heart. The prominent accordion is really an unusual signature sound, setting Bello apart from the pack. A folk album at heart, this is a mix of Americana genres.

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