Review: Jeff Riddle & The Bella Vista Social Club – ‘Destroy’

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Jeff Riddle & The Bella Vista Social Club is the product of Jeff Riddle’s songwriting abilities and a backing band to bring life to the record. The Bella Vista Social Club is a nod to South Philly and Jeff’s transition into the Philly music scene. While in Philly for college, I was lucky enough to experience what that scene is like. Upon listening to the album, I can instantly imagine the band playing a house show either in someone’s living room or basement. That might be one of the things I miss most about that scene.

Anyway, onto the actual music on Destroy now. The album opens up with “Microbial Life Inside A Vacuum.” The song kicks off with just acoustic guitar and then Jeff’s voice comes in giving light to his songwriting abilities. It’s calming and has sprinkles of other instruments throughout. It really sets the tone for the album and what the instrumentation will be like. And by that, I mean it’ll keep you guessing on what you’ll hear next. “Black Cloud” really stood out to me with a more folk/country vibe to it. Not coincidentally, it gave off a stormy feel with the chords used and the way Jeff sang the lyrics. I also really dig the electric guitar that comes in briefly. It’s stunning how many ways The Bella Vista Social Club used their instruments throughout the album.

The title track closes out the album similar to the way it started. Jeff gets personal with his lyrics in various ways in each song. Some lyrics are blunt and others are witty, but either way you get a look inside his life. These kinds of albums are some of the best ones to listen to. And for what it’s worth, the string section in “Destroy” does the opposite. It’s subtle, but adds a lot to the song. Needless to say, if you enjoy excellent instrumentation and acoustic guitar at all, this album is one you need to check out.