Gig review: Chrysta Bell

Chrysta Bell's cover from the album This Train. Picture: Contributed
Chrysta Bell's cover from the album This Train. Picture: Contributed
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WHAT, one wonders, first attracted David Lynch to work with stunning, sexy, statuesque siren Chrysta Bell? Or Bell to throw in her lot with the ultimate cult director, whose films are as celebrated for their atmospheric soundtracks as for their oblique storytelling and idiosyncratic style?

Chrysta Bell - Oran Mor, Glasgow


Whatever the mutual benefit, the pair have spent a long time cultivating their musical collaboration, taking over a decade to produce Bell’s album This Train with, on this showing, little of substance to show at the end of it.

There is no doubt that Bell would make a striking cameo in one of Lynch’s works, playing the too-good-to-be-true torch singer, and that is the part she played here with a practised sultriness and an affected alto. But she was toying with a role rather than inhabiting her performance, resorting to contrived theatricality in the absence of any strong material on which to exercise her bluesy voice.

Prowling basslines, spooky keys and lashings of guitar reverb were applied like window dressing to tracks which could only aspire to the unsettling dreaminess of Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks soundtrack. Swing With Me – introduced as “a bit of Texas” – blew up a belated dust storm but the best song of the night was a cover of Nick Cave’s Do You Love Me?

Even then, her able backing trio mustered a degree of menace but Bell’s vocal was too mannered to convey the desperate, creepy devotion of the lyric.