Album Review: The Lone Bellow - The Lone Bellow
By: Matt Bjorke
Have you ever wanted to remember where you were the first time you heard a new band sing or heard an exciting new song? Well, that's the way I feel about The Lone Bellow and their self-titled debut for Descendant Records after hearing them perform live in Nashville this past December. The talented three piece of lead singer and songwriter Zach Williams, mandolinist Kanene Pipkin, and guitarist Brian Elmqust found each other in Brooklyn but each can trace their roots music approach to their Southern heritage.
The band built a considerable buzz late last year that lead to their signing with new indie Descendant Records (distributed by RED Distribution). The trio's earthy harmonies drive their sound and while the comparisons to popular rootsy folk bands like Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, Needtobreathe and The Civil Wars are obvious, The Lone Bellow showcases throughout this fantastic self-titled album an ability to bridge the trend of the moment with a more wholesome, heartland sensibility that could and should lend the band to the ears of mainstream Country Music fans, particularly on album progressive country/rock opener "Green Eyes And A Heart Of Gold." Grammy winning producer Charlie Peacock (The Civil Wars, Switchfoot) helps give the album that extra oomph needed for the mainstream without ever drowning Williams' lyrics or the bands tight soulful harmonies in a wall of sound. This tune, in particular showcases the massive potential for the band with a sweeping, atmospheric sound not unlike some of Little Big Town's past hits or Brad Paisley's "Southern Comfort Zone."
Much of The Lone Bellow is centered around those harmonies and it was a smart decision to center the fantastic melodies around such vocals with "Tree To Grow" and "Two Sides of Lonely" showcasing the melodic heart of the band. "You Never Need Nobody" is grounded in acoustic piano and the glorious harmonies from the band and is as soul-stirring and heartfelt as Zac Brown Band's "Colder Weather." There's an affable feel to "You Don't Love Me Like You Used To," a song that feels like a lost Stone Ponys gem while "Fire Red Horse" recalls Rodney Crowell's most introspective songs.
The thumping "The One You Should've Let Go" feels ready to permeate the radio dials at some point in the coming year and is a suitable ending to an otherworldly listening experience. The Lone Bellow is a band that owns their self-described "Brooklyn Country Music" sound and could do for that region what Zac Brown Band has done for Atlanta's Country Music. NYC just got a country station and if they were smart, they'd add any singles this band releases to their playlists. The Lone Bellow is a new band but they feel like they've been around for ages, always the sign of a band destined to go places (and a good reason for their inclusion in our Ones To Watch in 2013 List).