William Bell Returns With His 15th Studio Album
One Day Closer To Home
Out April 14 on Wilbe Records
“… a precociously smoky, tender voice…” – The New Yorker Magazine
“Because he could write, William became a henchman at the label, one of the hubs in the wheel — a go-to guy,” – Booker T. Jones of Booker T. & The MGs
“Bell remains an elegantly compelling singer, whose voice has frayed only slightly around the edges…” – Paste
William Bell sings better than anyone else on the planet.
His legendary career has been decorated, accoladed, and celebrated from the White House to the Grammy stage and Royal Albert Hall.
Written and produced by William Bell and co-producer Reginald Jones at his Wilbe Recording Studios in Atlanta, GA, One Day Closer To Home is set for release on April 14, 2023, and will mark Bell’s 15th studio album.
Soul music has always been at the core of William’s words and melodies, from love songs to break-up songs to the homesick blues. “My writing is about truth, you know? People all over the world can relate to what’s happening in their lives if it’s done in a truthful way,” he explained at the time of his Grammy Award in 2017.
On this album, the vocal and instrumental arrangements with his touring band, The Total Package Band takes the listener through the major musical genres of the last century; songs infused with Blues and R&B dance cheek to cheek with Country tunes as horns bump up against an Americana-style fiddle. Bell emotes and amplifies as he tells you hello or goodbye, for he is a brilliant vocalist and a skilled lyricist.
As the album opens up, Bell invites you in with the groovy “I Still Go To Parties,” which expresses his love of being social; however, he has learned to exit before the midnight hour. The single “Let’s Make Loving Great Again” (out in time for Valentine’s Day) is a ballad reminding us to be compassionate towards each other, try to put aside petty differences, and enjoy the company of a certain someone. The fiddle stands out as the lead instrument on “When I Stop Loving You” (a co-write with Bob Dylan and Levon Helm alumnus Larry Campbell) as Bell describes what would happen if the romance were ever over – the sun, moon, and stars would die out – so he begs them to hold on and endure. He advises on “Ain’t Gon’ Let It Bother Me,” as he tells himself (or us) how all the gossip and advice won’t stop him from loving a possible heartbreaker. The soul man displays his somber side on the album title track, “One Day Closer To Home,” singing about leaving, traveling, and making his way home, wherever that might be.
Born in Memphis and based in Atlanta since 1970, William Bell was one of the pioneers of the classic Stax/Volt sound that blended blues, gospel, and rock. He and the other illustrious label forces such as Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the MG’s, Albert King, Eddie Floyd, Carla and Rufus Thomas, The Staple Singers, and the Bar-Kays, created a magical musical community in the sleepy town of Memphis. As a songwriter, Bell’s compositions have been recorded by such diverse stars as Otis Redding, Eric Clapton, Carole King, Billy Idol, Etta James, Melissa Etheridge, and (most recently) Bruce Springsteen. The ever-popular tunes “Born Under A Bad Sign,” “Every Day Is Like A Holiday,” “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” and “Private Number” are some of the most coveted from his catalog.
At 76, he won his first Grammy for Best Americana Album for his 2016 release, the John Leventhal-produced This Is Where I Live (Stax/Concord Records). The album was a massive comeback for the legendary artist and was critically acclaimed and loved by fans. Reviews came in from The New Yorker Magazine, PASTE Magazine, AllMusic, and No Depression. NPR’s critic, Ken Tucker, called it “a triumph” on the Fresh Air show in 2016. The Irish Times described Bell’s voice as “… a soul singer with a warm timbre and a penchant for sublime, emotional arrangements…”
William Bell has graced many stages over his long career, from Beale Street in Memphis to the Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY, to Royal Albert Hall (London), to a three-night stand at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, and most of all, performing at the White House in front of former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle. His live shows always include his 12-piece band with a horn section, backing vocals, and a solid rhythm section that makes the audience dance and have a good time, for they are epic.
Giving back is one of William’s favorite things to do, from mentoring young emerging songwriters to preserving the history of his work and beyond. His music has made its way into modern music with various sampling and beats with artists like Ludacris, Jaheim, and the late rapper Tupac. He works with the STAX Music Academy Kids, The Grammy Museum, and The Berklee College of Music; where they recorded the single “Stompin’ Ground” with Aaron Neville and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and which won a 2023 Grammy for Best American Roots song for the documentary Take Me To The River.
William is the recipient of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s R&B Pioneer Award, a BMI Songwriter’s Award, and is a member of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and Memphis Music Hall of Fame. He’s been awarded many lifetime achievement awards, including from the Americana Music Association (2016), the National Endowment for The Arts, the Musicians Hall of Fame (Nashville), and the Epitome of Soul Award that was presented to Bell by Stevie Wonder.
Booker T. Jones continues his praise for Bell, “He was an innovator as a singer. He set the standard for Percy Sledge and all who sang with heart, soul, and feeling.” – from a New York Times article in 2016. Bell has continued to influence and gain respect amongst artists of all genres of music – from Gary Clark, Jr., North Mississippi Allstars, Southern Ave, and rapper Snoop Dogg which completes the circle from back in the early days of his career with Otis and Sam Cooke.
Again, William Bell has delivered the musical goods on One Day Closer To Home as another collection of his legacy – one filled with pride, love, and soul.
Check out his new video for “Let’s Make Loving Great Again” – https://youtu.be/OYZeLRi-lqs