William Fitzsimmons – Mission Bell

William Fitzsimmons - Mission BellMission Bell opens with a resounding sense of hope. Not the type of hope you have following that harder-than-expected final exam or if you beat your personal best running time, but the kind you cling to in order to survive. In the case of this record, it’s the kind of survival that follows the end of a relationship when nothing is as it was and everything is different. In Second Hand Smoke, that opening track, William Fitzsimmons asks where it all went wrong before following it up with the question “where do we go from here?” Coupled with a melody that is like a reprieve from the rainstorm, it’s a hope that comes out of relief now that uncertainty is over.

The album segments the relationship and its breakdown. He places her on a pedestal in Lovely when he says “She walks on the water from where I stand.” On Leave Her, he wishes that when their days come, he would rather die first than have to live knowing she’s gone. Throughout, Fitzsimmons sings in a hushed haunting tone as he places his vulnerabilities on display – sometimes heavily emphasized with backing vocals by Abby Gunderson and Rosie Thomas.

It sounds cathartic, both for us and for him, as if these songs are what he needs to process and heal. He doesn’t so much wallow in self-pity as he does reminisce, forgive, and hope for the best for both.

The record was initially recorded a year earlier but abandoned before Fitzsimmons went back and started from scratch using analog equipment with producer Adam Landry (Vanessa Carlton, k.d. lang, Deer Tick). The result is an album that captures both the hurt and the healing side of a relationship ended through layered yet raw production and melodies that cut deep. Mission Bell is a record you might not want to listen to at just any time, but sometimes you need it.

Five stars

Check out: Second Hand Smoke, In The Light, Angela

1. Second Hand Smoke
2. Distant Lovers
3. 17+ Forever
4. Angela
5. In The Light
6. Lovely
7. Never Really Mine
8. Leave Her
9. Wait For Me
10. Afterlife

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