Adey Bell “Venus Exalted Vol. 2 “Tribute to the Dearly Departed” (EP) 

Adey Bell’s new EP release, Venus Exalted Vol. 2 – Tribute to the Dearly Departed, continues in the deeply felt tradition of Bell’s past releases. The Ashville, North Carolina-based singer/songwriter has earned a reputation as an intensely spiritual musical artist whose work has a higher purpose than mere entertainment.


However, make no mistake – Bell’s art checks off that box. The near-ethereal tone of songs such as Venus Exalted Vol. 2’s “North Star” casts a satisfying sonic spell. The EP’s second and third songs are equally enchanting, albeit in different ways. The raison d’être behind her creations looks to engage the deepest responses listeners can muster rather than touching us on superficial levels. Bell hopes each audience member intensely engages with the material and employs a deft blend of genres in her efforts to make that a reality.

“North Star” is a monumental opener. It is written as a tribute to the recently deceased Daniel Ellsberg, the famed whistleblower who exposed “the Pentagon Papers” during the 1970’s exposing the true extent of the US government’s conduct during the Vietnam War. However, like the best songs often do, “North Star” has universal application. Bell structures much of the performance around double-tracked vocals and piano. She could have rested there but does not.

“North Star” incorporates additional instrumentation as it progresses. It’s a song with a quasi-classical construction, smaller “movements” melding together into a larger coherent piece. Later sections of the track makes dramatic use of spot-on drumming and elegant violin. It begins Venus Exalted Vol. 2 on a high note.

The second track, “Phoenix”, hosts different instruments. It doesn’t rely on the marriage of piano and Bell’s voice as much as the opener. However, these two elements remain crucial. Drums play a more immediate role than before, and there’s a generous presence of guitar scattered throughout the cut. A darker tone pervades, but the overall effect stays regal, even triumphant. The song title offers clear clues as to why.

The EP title does as well. Bell is clearly working in an elegiac mode but never despairing. Venus Exalted’s final track makes that clear. “Prayer” concludes the EP in an even more meditative mood than its predecessors. It follows the same general template as “Phoenix” without aping the second track, but its demeanor differs in other ways. There’s a much more hushed and inward-looking tone dominating this performance though the drumming and other secondary instrumentation supplies artful impetus to the composition. Bell successfully employs multi-tracked vocals without sounding too melodramatic.

Venus Exalted Vol. 2 – Tribute to the Dearly Departed packs more into three songs than other releases manage over a half dozen or more tracks. It’s another outstanding realization of Adey Bell’s musical and lyrical vision that, despite its lofty aspirations, never risks pretentiousness. The Montana-born North Carolina transplant makes music capable of appealing to a vast spectrum of listeners, and it soars high on wide wings. Venus Exalted Vol. 2 – Tribute to the Dearly Departed is the sound of Adey Bell in full flight.

Mark Druery