Jeff Riddle & The Bella Vista Social Club - Destroy

Review by Shannon Shumaker

Jeff Riddle & The Bella Vista Social Club’s new album, Destroy is both intimate and relatable. With personal, raw lyricism and simplistic yet stunning songwriting, these songs will cut right through you emotionally, and leave you wanting more. Jeff Riddle’s vocals and lyrics are both blunt and striking, catching your attention right from the beginning and refusing to let go, and the great thing about these songs is that they never seem like too much - they’re beautiful and relaxing while also hitting hard, a difficult feat that seems easy for Jeff Riddle.

“Microbial Life Inside A Vacuum” is the bright opening song, spearheaded by crisp and emotionally powerful vocals that are a staple on Destroy. Not only is “Microbial Life Inside A Vacuum” a strong intro to the album and introduction to Jeff Riddle if you are not familiar, but it also sets the tone for all of the following songs, with lines like, “I know who I am/Tell me who are you?”

Where “Microbial Life Inside A Vacuum” sounds more confident and self-assured, “Sleeping Consequences” feels more frustrated, sad and full of longing. Taking a step away from the first track, this second song also has a fuller sound, complete with added string instruments that give the track even more emotion. That, coupled with powerful lyricism, such as, “You can’t love me if you don’t know me/And if you did you’d leave,” makes this song hit hard without actually having to hit at all. The soft instrumentals coupled with Riddle’s blunt and crisp vocals are absolutely stunning. Keeping that emotional high and raw energy is the following track, “Worthless Original.” Where “Sleeping Consequences” feels more longing, “Worthless Original” is about moving forward and getting better, something that is very easy to relate to, especially given the poetic lyricism on this track. Lines like, “I’ve been having a hard time/Seeing the forest through the trees,” and “I’m laughing myself to death/But under my breath/I’m losing my shit again,” are both emotionally powerful and very relatable, making this song a standout.

Moving forward, “Trash Age” picks things up with a bright, high energy sound, which is a nice change of pace from the first few slower songs. However, much like the rest of the album, even this upbeat track doesn’t come without powerful lyrical content, and the song’s final line, “There’s a hole in my chest where my heart should be,” is a testament to that. “Black Cloud” is also a unique sounding track due to its aggressive and gritty sound. Both musically and vocally, this song sounds completely different from the rest of the album, especially in Riddle’s powerful, growling vocals. While at times, songs on Destroy can tend to sound similar or even a little repetitive, songs like “Black Cloud” really keep it moving forward and fun to listen to. Musically, the album may stay on a fairly similar level throughout all ten songs, but emotionally, Destroy has a very wide spectrum. 

Following “Black Cloud,” “Nervous Sister” takes us right back to the beginning with a softer sound, and then “Everything Beautiful Is Gone” comes in with some stunning and poetic lyricism, making this track another standout. The similes and metaphors in this track are some of the strongest on the entire album.

Destroy then begins to come to an end with “Promises Of Gold,” which is one of the happier songs on the album, about moving on from someone who isn’t good for you. “Three Sheets To The Wind” is where Destroy finally starts to end, with quiet guitar, beautiful string instruments, and powerful lyrics about losing someone and struggling to stay strong. While relatively short, “Three Sheets To The Wind” does not lack any of the emotion that the other songs on Destroy have, helping bring things to a powerful close before the final track, “Destroy.” One of the quietest songs on the album, the title track serves as a soft lullaby at the very end, bringing things to a soft and beautiful close.

Destroy is proof that a song of album can hit hard emotionally without actually having to hit at all. Nearly every song on Destroy is soft, catchy and beautiful, but coupled with poetic, emotional and personal lyricism, these songs are not only relatable, but also powerful and moving. Destroy is a total success.

Rating: 4.5/5

Listen to "Sleeping Consequences" or "Black Cloud"


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