When he’s not covering local issues either on The Bartholomewtown Podcast, on radio on 99.7 FM and 630 AM WPRO, or on TV at Rhode Island PBS, Bill Bartholomew makes music.
As part of doing indie rock music Silvertieth with his wife Gabriella Rassi, as a fave piano-rock trio or as a solo artist among other projects, the Charlestown native has been a constant component of the Rhode Island music scene. He was also single in Brooklyn during the late 2000s and early 2000s, where he met Rassi, before returning to The Ocean State during the mid-2000s.
His latest solo album, Beij, due out on October 14, was heavily stripped down with Bartholomew dealing with writing, recording, production, and instrumentation all on his own. This approach results in a pure sound quality that highlights the songwriting craft as it is informed of an original artistic identity.
Bartholomew began working on the album at the beginning of the year with a lot of creative and emotional thoughts on his mind. He also wanted to use the project as a way to refocus him as a musician after dedicating most of his time to his media career over the past few years.
“There were a few things I wanted to achieve when I started working on ‘Big’ in January,” he said of making the album. “I knew I wanted to make a recording that represented the sound I had been trying to capture for years. I wanted to combine new songs, songs written at the height of the novel coronavirus outbreak, songs that had been with me for a long time. I also wanted to record the music myself and play all the instruments. It’s fair to say I’ve been “out” of music for the past two years, even when I’ve been focusing on the media side of my career.”
“For example, I’ve been playing drums on a number of projects, doing solo performances, organizing shows and releasing electronic inks,” Bartholomew adds. “However, with Beij, I’m definitely coming back to the music game with a complete perspective. After New York, Silverteith and other aspects of my musical journey, I needed to hit the reset button and reframe how I wanted my life to be. I feel relaxed, refocused, and more honest with the artist.” Who I want to be more than I have been in years, maybe even ever.”
What impresses me most about the album is the vocal diversity that comes from so many ways. Some songs simply have Bartholomew singing while playing the guitar or playing the piano with the vocal structure acting as the focal point. Others have the full band vibe with drums and bass that complement the song. Stylistically, there’s this indie rock establishment that bounces off folk and country elements. There are some beats in the music but not so much that it can sound pretentious or comical.
My favorite song off the album has to be “A Serious Light”. Melody chords from guitar and vocal harmonies complement each other very well with lyrics having the ability to stick to the mind. “Shadows” is a different version of Silverteeth’s staple during recovery besides being a perfect example of Bartholomew’s vocals group. The “feathers” style leans toward this rustic style, which on a personal level gives me insights into a Western, spaghetti gunfight. I’m not sure if that’s what Bartholomew was after but that’s what I got from him.
Bartholomew will celebrate Beij’s release with a DIY style show at The Loft at 669 Elmwood Avenue in Providence during the night of the album’s release. Fellow singer-songwriters Dave Flamand and Randy Robbins and psychedelic garage rock actor Ziggy Gennardust and Racy will kick off at 8 p.m. For more information, visit Bartholomew’s website at billbartholomew.bandcamp.com.
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