In February, Andy Bell released his second solo album Flicker to great acclaim. The 18-track double album was written almost as a conversation with his younger self, reflecting on the past while looking to the future and overcoming initial reservations about becoming a solo artist. Following the success of Flicker, Bell announced a series of three EPs that feature remixes, acoustic versions and covers of songs that inspired his sophomore effort.
The second in the series of EPs is The Grounding Process, which is made up of stunning, stripped-down acoustic versions of tracks from Flicker. The EP is available digitally or as a limited edition 10” splatter vinyl.
For his debut solo album, The View From Halfway Down, Bell explained that “I did all of my promotion via Zoom and pre-recorded interviews and acoustic sessions. I enjoyed making the acoustic versions and decided to do some more for this album”.
The EP begins with the undoubted highlight of Flicker, the anthemic ‘Something Like Love’. The acoustic version comprises of a slower guitar riff and softer vocals, giving it a more intimate feel while still managing to maintain the anthemic feel of the original recording, thanks to the power of Bell’s vocal performance. ‘World of Echo’ follows a far cry from the electrified Flicker version that was laden with effects which helped it to become a standout on the album. The acoustic version strips it back, albeit maintaining a slight echo effect on the vocals. Bell’s strumming and chord changes take the song to new heights and allow the lyrics to take precedence. Lines such as, “And I won’t forget all these memories, I will keep them safe in the deepest heart of me”, seem to be delivered with greater resonance than on the original version.
A gentler version of ‘She Calls The Tune’ is also featured. Noteworthy for being the first song Bell wrote after having joined Oasis, thus ending a period of writer’s block. Although never viewed as an Oasis song, the acoustic rendition offers an insight into how the song was initially performed “to an audience of Liam Gallagher, Gem Archer and Richard Ashcroft in a Milan hotel room”, Bell explained, jokingly adding, “No Pressure!”. Whilst ‘Something Like Love’ is clearly a song that dates back to the Ride era, the aforementioned ‘She Calls The Tune', and the following song ‘Lifeline’ are both from Bell’s Oasis days, allowing The Grounding Process to provide a career retrospective. Songs that were originally conceived at previous points of his career, with Ride and Oasis, have been finalised as he embarks on the path of a solo artist.
The final song on the EP is the heartfelt ‘Love Is The Frequency’. There is an added poignancy to the acoustic version, bittersweet lyrics such as, “and time is moving like a bullet from a gun” are allowed room to stand out, with the line, “Got so far to travel, and we’ve only just begun”, proving apt, almost as a metaphor for Bell’s solo career.
The Grounding Process offers an excellent insight into the solid foundations that were laid for Flicker to be built on. The stripped-down versions provide an added level of intimacy and emotion to the lyrics while maintaining the positivity that radiated on Flicker, thanks to the warmth of Bell’s acoustic guitar compositions. If you missed Flicker, be sure not to miss The Grounding Process.