Given the band’s varied geographical background, Denver is fortunate to be the home of the toe-tapping, melodic folk-rock band The Belle Jar. Originally an individual project of lead singer and songwriter Ryan James, the band has since grown into a six-piece lineup, with natives of Minnesota, Texas, Kansas and Illinois among them. As diverse as The Belle Jar’s roots are, the same can be said for the band’s sound itself. The Belle Jar’s rich instrumentation and simple musings of indie rock and folk have helped them stand out within a competitive local scene, and their energetic live shows have consistently turned into impromptu dance parties.
The contagious sound of The Belle Jar has caught the eye of more and more critics, as well. John Hendrickson of The Denver Post said of the band’s 2012 performance at the Underground Music Showcase, “The Belle Jar played smart folk-rock punctuated by Emily Lewisʼ well-honed violin skills,” and Erin Yepis of Concerted Effort calls The Belle Jarʼs live performance “sonically delightful.” And with critical success follows more fruitful performance opportunities. The Belle Jar has shared the stage with Kathryn Calder (of The New Pornographers), Bethesda, You Me and Apollo, Strange Americans, Gregory Alan Isakov, Ian Cooke, The Kopecky Family Band, Esme Patterson and many more.
Their sophomore release, Union Station, continues on The Belle Jar’s fast track to success. The band took a more collaborative approach to writing and recording this time around, and the result is a very distinctive album. The signature folk-rock sound from Fall Systems Go still carries on to Union Station, but ringing guitars, gorgeous violins, driving rhythms and multi-layered harmonies take Union Station down a bigger path than its predecessor. With this solid early success and continual musical evolution, The Belle Jar is one Denver band you don’t want to miss.