The Lone Bellow "Then Came the Morning"

The Lone Bellow create beautiful paeans to loneliness that border on transcendence.

You’d be hard pressed to find a band more aptly named than The Lone Bellow. The conjoined voices of Zach Williams, Brian Elmquist, and Kanene Donehey Pipkin send up beautiful, mournful paeans to loneliness that can border on transcendence. Although the trio currently resides in Brooklyn, their southern roots are undeniable in the break of the voice, in the gospel exaltations, in the country plaints that detail the reality of living life on the edge.

Beginning with the title track Zach Williams sets the tone for the band’s second album. Heartache, the kind that blankets the heart like night, begins to lift ever so slowly as a new day approaches. The message - pain is a transitional experience that leads to a deeper emotional life. Williams’ lyrics and the trio’s harmonies match both the depths of loss and the crescendo of redemptive love. This territory is plumbed throughout the album’s thirteen tracks. “Fake Roses” is an adept rendering of the connection between emotional and economic deficiency. “Old broken taped up tail light, her mama’s Monte Carlo/she don’t open up the gas bill, just leaves it on the dashboard,” is a line worthy of any great country ballad.  There are prayerful moments on the album, most notably “Marietta” and “I Let You Go.”

For producer, the band chose Aaron Dessner, lead singer and songwriter for The National. He might, seem an unusual match, but once you’ve heard the pensive mood of the album it makes more sense. Dessner is a prince of darkly shadowed songs, not only with his own band but also with his work with Local Natives and Sharon Van Etten. He brings out a louder, more aggressive element in The Lone Bellows songs. “Take My Love” and “Heaven Don’t Call Me Home” rock harder than anything we’ve heard before from the band. Elmquist’s and Pipkin’s vocals warp and weft neatly into Williams’ lead vocals, creating a harmonic tapestry. In a rare exception to the rule, Pipkin takes lead on “Call To War.”

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix)

 

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