Vince Bell

Texas Plates

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On Texas Plates, Vince Bell wraps his songs in rich textures and signs of growing optimism. Few would argue Bell's right to the collection of dark, sparse songs he wrote for 1994's Phoenix. After all, anyone who's been catapulted through a car window, suffered brutal head injuries, and been in a month-long coma has full permission to write from places of pain and doubt. Texas Plates, on the other hand, is full of life and great expectation. Bell's voice has grown stronger, exhibiting new shadings and emotion, and his writing is bolder. Particularly mesmerizing are "Place to Call Our Own," "100 Miles From Mexico," and "Have Not, Will Travel," which is easily the centerpiece of this wonderful, sometimes ethereal album. Bell doesn't like to make noise about his accident and long recovery, but it's to be hoped that he'll have the grace to allow the listener to be vastly impressed. Meanwhile, Texas Plates stands as a fine album, and hopefully, as Bell promises, "The Best Is Yet to Come."

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