A musically diverse Americana artist with jazz influences, Lisa Bell shifts gears with her fifth release, Back Seat (out September 6). It’s the most potent album of the singer/songwriter’s career, nodding to the influences that have helped sharpen her own sound — including laidback R&B, melodic soul, and American roots music — while also pushing into contemporary, Triple A-friendly territory. Gluing the mix together are Bell’s expressive voice and ever evolving writing chops, which combine to tell the story of an empty nester who, having spent years raising her children, is ready to climb back into the driver’s seat and chase down new dreams.
Everything began in an off-the-grid cabin in the Colorado backwoods, where Bell wrote the bulk of Back Seat’s 12 songs. She’d launched her music career nearly 20 years earlier, steadily transforming herself from a jazz standards singer into an eclectic, seasoned musician who co-wrote her own songs and shared shows with headliners like Stanley Jordan, Christopher Cross, and Oleta Adams. It had been a creative career, but she was ready for a change. Writing without collaborators for the first time, she began piecing together a new batch of songs that modernized her sound while still honoring her bluesy, jazzy bedrock. Bell wasn’t just chasing the muse this time; she was proving to the world — and, perhaps, to herself, as well — that she wasn’t finished with her musical journey. After four albums and countless performances, she still had something compelling to say.
Perhaps most importantly, Back Seat tells a story that reaches beyond Bell’s own experience. There are deep, mature love songs here — songs that examine human relationships not from the perspective of starry-eyed newlyweds, but of lovers who’ve ridden the rollercoaster of a long, emotional partnership together.
Today Glide is excited to premiere “The Road is Always Longer”, one of the standout singles on Back Seat. Inspired by the journey of life, the song is a bluesy and soulful meditation on the importance of living in the present and enjoying the moment. Bell shows off her smooth, laid back vocals over a funky soundtrack of organ, groovy saxophone, and honeyed harmonies. Bell urges the listener to “keep on grooving”, and this song definitely has the power to make you dance.
Listen to the tune and read our chat with Lisa Bell below…
What inspired this song? What is it about?
I was at a retreat in the Pacific Northwest and was on a trail one morning that never seemed to end. It occurred to me that I was so focused on getting to the end that I wasn’t enjoying the journey. The phrase “the road is always longer when you’re searching for the end” came from that day. The song was written in an off-grid cabin in the woods. This was my second writing session in the cabin, and the day before I slid and fell on a hike. I was forced to wear a leg brace for the entire time I was in the beautiful wilderness, only able to sit on the back porch instead of getting out for a hike or walk. The rest of the chorus came from that experience “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger if that lesson we befriend. The past is not the future it can’t define us don’t you know. So let it go, let it slide and keep on grooving, on the inside.” The song is about enjoying life’s journey no matter what the circumstances!
How was the recording process for this song? Any great stories from your time in the studio working on this song?
The band and I had a great time co-creating this song in the studio. Like the entire album, we worked out the feel of each song right before recording it, and the result was a very “live” feeling album. The end of the song was completely ad-libbed as we went along, and we let it grow organically.
If you could describe your music to people who have never heard it before, what adjectives would you use?
Soulful, hip, old-school, chill, fun, sensual, hopeful, encouraging.
How do you think living in Colorado has impacted your music and your overall sound? Does geography play a part in what you do and the kind of music you make?
I love to write in the wilderness of Colorado. I find it very inspiring. A lot of the songs on this album ended up having nature themes as a result. In that way, geography and my surroundings have a big influence on the music. I’m also very fortunate to have great local musicians to work with, who all love Colorado as much as I do.
For more music and info visit isabellmusic.com
Photo credit: Marla Rutherford Photography