The long, cold winter is just around the corner, and if you can’t actually escape to tropical islands or wend through the European countryside in a sports car, Belle Boussole can provide a reasonable facsimile of such a trip. The New Paltz band is a musical partnership between husband and wife Bryan and Nicole McGurn.
Modern soul music is many different things to many different people, but its lines are cleanest and purest in the acid jazz of bands like Brand New Heavies and Jamiroquai. Bryan’s introduction to the genre happened during a six-month stint in Hong Kong, which is obviously a long way for the music to travel. But as a metaphor, it works. This eponymous debut is traveling music, from up-tempo songs like “Walk with Me” and “Firefly,” which would provide the perfect soundtrack to wheels effortlessly hugging the curve, to the sultry sophisticated sway of “Chocolate Cake” and “Free Tonight.”
Because of its sleek styling, acid jazz has always had an air of the future as it appeared in the past, a place where drinks are served to smiling couples on jetliners bound for points unknown. Belle Boussole takes the conceit one step further, with synthesized strings and beats, and the gentle digital chirps and tweets one might imagine coming out of robot butlers. The transition from one song to the next is as smooth as Nicole’s voice, perfectly suited for blue-eyed soul music and thankfully without the accursed, omnipresent Auto-Tune. Bryan’s production is equally powerful, eschewing overly contemporary gimmicks for something far more classic.
Belle Boussole: Press
If there’s anything that’s true of the Hudson Valley music scene, it’s that it’s impossible to pin down. Long the domain of sleek European cities, the electro-soul sound is alive and well in the music of Belle Boussole.
Belle Boussole’s self-titled debut is a labor of love for married couple Bryan and Nicole McGurn. A tribute to the imported Acid Jazz Bryan heard during six months spent in Hong Kong, Belle Boussole’s lineage can be directly traced back to the work of artists like the Brand New Heavies and Sweetback, with a futuristic electronic sheen.
Dancefloor dramas like “Hearts Went Black” and “Native Island” are what make the album a perfect soundtrack for summer nights both hot and cool, with the former’s pulsating rhythm track and keyboard flourishes as light and refreshing as the best gin & tonic you’ve ever had.
But it’s not all up-tempo disco, either. “Chocolate Cake” so successfully evokes classic soul it’s almost shocking it’s not a cover. “Free Tonight” also brings the BPM and mood down to a level best associated with getting close to someone special. The strength of Belle Boussole’s conviction is that the songs are as strong whether entirely assembled by Bryan McGurn as they are when live drums and bass enter the mix, as on the outstanding “Walk With Me”.
Belle Boussole’s stellar debut is at once familiar and futuristic, no small feat in a world where artists often lean in one direction at the exclusion of the other. —Crispin Kott
BELLE BOUSSOLE INTERVIEW for Boom Boom Chik
If one had to chart some points in the history of electric-soul duo Belle Boussole, these might stick out: a love of music-making (Bryan), happening upon a music career on accident (Nicole), a marriage (Bryan and Nicole) and a move to New York.
Belle Boussole’s Bryan McGurn and Nicole McGurn came to music through different avenues but their musical compatibility is undeniable; they create soulful and electronic-infused melodies that put them in the same categories as dance pop bands like Jamiroquai, Madison Avenue and Deee-Lite. Though these bands had their heyday in the ’90s, Belle Boussole’s music sounds timely without sacrificing melodies. Today’s dance, pop, and electronic music can hardly be praised for the originality or complexities of their melodies; in fact many acts have stopped writing melodies altogether and settle for “beats” and noises that are cut and pasted.
We recently interviewed Belle Boussole about their musical influences, their backgrounds and the process of making their album:
Read the full interview...
"...the husband and wife duo of guitarist Bryan McGurn and vocalist Nicole McGurn — will add some heat to the night with its "electro-soul" music, combining influences ranging from classic soul to electro-lounge."
"By the end of track one I had been transported back to the early 90's soul/groove days of N'Dea Davenport and The Brand New Heavies, Raw Stylus, Incognito, Jamiroquai, etc. Classic feel with a modern twist."
"Belle Boussole has the perfect blend of soulful, sexy vocals, swinging grooves and an atmospheric soundscape that will take you on a trip. Pack your bags..."