Why didn’t I listen to The Lone Bellow sooner? That was my thought after listening to their new album. For those who don’t know who The Lone Bellow are they are a trio from Brooklyn, New York. It’s comprised of Zach Williams (lead vocalist and guitarist), Kanene Pipkin (vocalist and mandolin player) and Brian Elmquist (vocalist and guitarist). Their music is really hard to describe because they dabble with so many different genres. The best I could describe it is alt-country mixed with blues, rock, roots and pop. Their songs are a melting pot of genres. Normally I save my recommendation thoughts at the end of a review, but I just want to get it out-of-the-way now. Go buy The Lone Bellow’s Then Came The Morning album. It’s simply fantastic and I’m going to do my best to tell you why every song on this album is damn good.
The album starts off with the upbeat and gospel influenced “Then Came the Morning.” The combination of the harmony interludes along with the hints of horn production give this song an infectious harmony that makes you want to listen to it over and over again. It immediately draws the listener into the album. Needless to say, this is an excellent start to the record. This is followed by the heartbreak song, “Fake Roses.” It’s about a woman who had her heart-broken and as a result has shut herself away from the rest of the world. She tries to get lost in watching television. Williams does a great job establishing the somber attitude of the song in the beginning and then the harmonizing at the end really drives it home.
“Marietta” is a love song where a man tries to win a woman named Marietta’s love back. He pleads to her and says that he’ll let her back into his heart, as he can’t shake his love for her. This is a love song with real emotion and heart that will appeal to a lot of people. And the vocal performance in this song is dynamite. It’s arguably the best song on the album, amongst many great songs. Next is another pleading love song in “Take My Love.” This song is more straightforward and not as emotional. It’s as if it’s a follow-up to “Marietta” after the man has got the woman’s attention and is now just begging for her to take his love. The hook in this song will definitely get stuck in your head and that’s a good thing.
Once again the harmonies shine in “Call To War.” It’s a song about a woman who lost her husband to war and how she won’t rest until he’s found. No matter what though her love will triumph over it all. The best line of the song is “remember when the mountains fell like pennies down a wishing well.” It’s really the punctuation mark of this song. Really though Kanene Pipkin’s vocal performance is what makes this song stand out. “Watch Over Us” is one of the more mellow tracks on the album. The acoustic guitar is the only instrumentation used in the song, so the trio’s vocals are front and center. This is probably the weakest song on the album, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad song. It’s actually good. When this is the worst song on an album, you know you’re listening to something pretty special.
This is followed by another stand out song, “Diners.” The lead vocals on this song are spectacular and really set the emotion. The setting of this song takes place in a diner late at night where a man laments letting love, using comparisons to jukeboxes. And of course the harmonies are stellar again. The Lone Bellow kicks the tempo up on “Heaven Don’t Call Me Home.” This is the kind of song that will get you to stand up and dance. I dare you to try to listen to this song and not move your head as you listen. You can’t because it’s impossible. I can imagine the band had as much fun recording this one, as the fans have listening to it. “If You Don’t Love Me” is a bluesy country rock song about giving an ultimatum to a significant other that they can leave or let you go if they don’t love you. It’s an upbeat song with a “tell it like it is” attitude. It’s one of the less serious tracks on the album.
The quietest track on the album is “Telluride.” The song is about a small mountain town in Colorado named Telluride. The town became well-known during the gold rush in the earlier years of America. Many called it “to hell you ride” and there are two meanings behind this phrase. One because it was dangerous to ride their on horseback (I’m assuming Hickory is referring to a horse possibly in the song) and two because it was infamous for it’s bars and brothels, which miners blew their money on. It’s a really neat story and this song does a great job telling it. This is followed by the shortest track on the album, “To The Woods.” It’s a nice little folksy ditty that can breeze right by if you don’t pay attention. It feels like an epilogue to “Telluride.”
The most rocking and dynamic sounding song on the album is “Cold As It Is.” This is a fantastic fusion of blues, country and rock. Just like “Heaven Don’t Call Me Home,” this song will make you want to move your feet. As for the theme, it’s about not leaving your significant other no matter how cold the relationship can be. I know this is a song I will be playing over and over for a while. It’s so damn good and one of the best on an album full of great songs. The album ends with “I Let You Go,” a heartbreak love song about letting love go in hopes that they would come back to you. It kind of plays on the saying of “if you love something you will let it go.” Your brain is saying letting go is the best thing to do, but your heart wants the opposite. It’s a beautiful harmony that concludes a phenomenal album.
The Lone Bellow’s Then Came The Morning simply blows me away. The year is still new, but this album will hold up as one of the best in country music all year. I don’t think it would be a stretch to call this trio one of the most dynamic in music. If you’re looking for a comparison, I would say the closest is Shovels & Rope, except more bluesy and not quite as dark. So if you love Shovels & Rope, you’ll love this group. Some may say this isn’t a country album, but I don’t care what genre you put it under. This is just great music that everyone should hear. This is without a doubt a strong contender for Country Perspective’s 2015 Album of the Year.