Why yes, I am a mainstream Country enthusiast. I do enjoy a nicely crafted Country-pop collection that barely scratches the surface somewhere between folk, rock, faux-pop and traditionalism without any real connection to musical history, lyrical depth or intriguing multi-layered instrumentation. However, when an album of incredibly dizzying heights, regardless of textbook genre definitions, is ignored by the populous and somehow taps into the euphoric balance of heartfelt storytelling, melodic sweetness and well-crafted arrangements, my soul is nourished much like a seven-course meal relinquishes any sense of prolonged starvation.
Born and bred from a primal desire to create music, The Lone Bellow got its start in any unlikely place. A jam session in a diner in Park Slope, Brooklyn saw the three musicians, Zach Williams, Brian Elmquist and Kanene Pipkin, surge with creative genius that would lead these three creative types to explore the inner recesses of their spherical minds and deliver a remarkable self-titled debut.
At the onset, the collection is rooted in a Southern upbringing, a gospel-folk sensibility and a tragic past, simply fueling the group’s need to come to together in tightly concocted harmonies and brutal honesty. Even without knowing the back-story of Williams’ wife’s catastrophic horseback riding accident and later her miraculous recovery, the stories shared on the short 11-track record are nothing less than masterpieces.
Whether it is the electrically charged “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold” opening romp or the tenderly poignant (and somewhat lullaby-like) “Fire Red Horse,” Zach, Brian and Kanene speak from a broken spirit, battling the powers that be to break free to find a place among their most confident and most vulnerable states. Even on “Bleeding Out,” a power anthem about retaliating in the face of adversity, they remain hopeful, paying tribute to those dreamers “full of the color that’s never been dreamed,” allowing the listener to breathe in the message of honor and forlorn angst of a better day.
The production is simply as interesting and captivating as the album’s melodies. There is never a moment where the instrument-laden stories become overbearing to the vocals in any way. The delicate balance is perfectly held in gripping relevancy, sharpening the senses as the listener moves from beginning to end. Layers of banjo and mandolin are perfectly centered around electric guitar, bass and heavy drum beats to create an atmospheric quality that sets the tone for a project that changes the face of music as we know it.
Other Highlights: “Two Sides of Lonely,” “Teach Me to Know,” “You Don’t Love Me Like You Used To”
Photo Credit: Facebook
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