Meet the Secret Weapon of the D.R.E.A.M. Tour: The Belles

They are the secret weapon of the D.R.E.A.M. tour, and they've just dropped their fresh EP "Nobody Knows Me Better"

You may not have heard of The Belles…

…but unless you've had your head buried in the ground for the last year, you have definitely heard of JoJo Siwa. It just so happens that The Belles, a mother-daughter country combo, have been opening for Siwa on every single date in her Nickelodeon D.R.E.A.M. tour. If you were lucky enough to catch them there, you will be ecstatic to hear that they've just dropped a new EP.

The first song on the album, "Beautiful Girl," opens up with blended acoustic guitar strums, and slow delayed electric guitar pounds over a sharp, verby kit. It tells the story of female-centric positivity in the wake of a struggle with self-esteem. It's a sentiment that could easily be corny, but because the song leans into its message of self-love, it blasts past being hokey.

We move on to "Nobody Knows Me Better," which rolls in on a slamming drum beat before being joined by a clav-guitar combo that is way catchier than it has any right to be. It's a different kind of love song that has Ingrid Michaelson-like lyrical flair with a Taylor Swift-like musical sensibility.

As "Fire" gets going, we can feel the EP start to slow down. It's an earned change of pace that explicitly plays with the mother-daughter dynamic at the core of the group. It's a warning against the follies of young love and has all the drive and verve of classic country rock. Like in "Beautiful Girl," the refrains of "Momma said…" could easily be cheesy but instead come off as sincere.

"Didn't Break Mine" continues the theme of catchy, upbeat, plucky musical arrangements, and tells the story of a break up. However, there are more layers at play here than in your typical heartbreak song. The deliberately bouncy tune is at odds with the content of the story being told, adding a delightful juxtaposition.

Finally, "My Mother's Daughter" ends the EP on a high-note. The guitar licks are slick, and, like many of the songs here, it feels ripe for stadium play. It speaks explicitly to the relationship of the duo in a way that's positive, joyous, and endearingly soulful.

The Belles are a band blessedly free of the corny trappings of stereotypical country music. Their sound has authenticity that cannot be denied, and they are able to set that sincerity to a pop sound that in many other artists would detract from their message. The Belles deliver an EP that is heavy on heart and light on cliche.

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Teddi Gold

Pop singer-songwriter Teddi Gold presents her new single, "Confetti," a track from her forthcoming EP, Vol. 2, coming later this year.

Explaining the inspiration for "Confetti" Teddi says, "I wrote it before this pandemic, but oddly the content of the song feels like it has more meaning given what is going on in the world. In a nutshell, it's about valuing relationships. If I got the people I love, then whatever else comes is just confetti." With her striking voice, reminiscent of Gwen Stefani, Teddi infuses the lyrics with sparkle, while harmonies blossom over the melody.

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