Los Angeles - Night Beds is the musical project of Colorado Springs native Winston Yellen. In 2013, the twenty-six year-old singer/songwriter crafted his faultless debut album, Country Sleep. He scored much recognition for Country Sleep’s towering vocals and arduous take on alt country. While the effort was quite memorable and beautiful, Night Beds has experimented down a different road this time. If folk-rock can become a little restrictive, then Yellen has become entirely unrestrained with his sophomore attempt, Ivywild (Dead Oceans).
The forlorn, R&B tinged record is a hypnotic collection of sixteen tracks. It’s nearly twice as long as County Sleep. The second endeavor features deep bass beats and auto-tuned vocals, but remains ever so captivating and effective. It differs from Country Sleep in many obvious ways with its undulating, palpitating synths that vacillate slightly below Yellen’s trembling vocals. However, at Ivywild’s core it still constructs Night Bed’s signature vast emotional resonance which is difficult to ignore no matter which album you have playing. Ivywild‘s trance-like atmosphere pulls the listener into dark places. But sometimes making their way out of the wreckage of those dark places is where one discovers their best self.
Ivywild spans many genres touching R&B, house, and snyth-pop. Genres aside, the craftsmanship is impeccable. Yellen had help from his brother Abe, twenty five other musicians, and Heather Hibbard, a singer from Maine who is featured on over half of the 16 track album. The process of developing Ivywild was clearly a laborious but a rewarding experience. At first glance, the album may seem overstocked. Nevertheless, the outcome is as impressive as the effort was ambitious.
The first single, “Me, Liquor and God,” was the initial indication of the brand new sonic direction for the now Nashville-based musician. The song uses wavy snyths to lighten up Yellen’s deeply personal lyrics. The second track, “Corner” is woeful with dreamy bass and more of Yellen’s engaging vocals. Toward the end of the song there is processed vocals, but they put the track well into the next-level. With earnest lyrics and an airy atmospheric vibe, “Corner” will definitely strike a chord with many. As will “Seratonin”, a smooth and alluring track which brings both the fire and the flood as it digs deep into the body with soulful, yearning beats that are thoroughly appealing.
“[9-6] slack-jaw” is a complete change of pace. It’s a neon-tinged R&B track that belongs in a club. It moves fast, but there’s so much beauty to hear. The deeply textual track boosts many layers with an assortment of dark-ish snyths. “On High:” is another song wavering in the depths of R&B, however, it doesn’t feel confined to the genre. Yellen is absorbing on this track with his altered vocals and frantic beats that come in half way through the song. As the record progresses, there’s so much to take in, but it’s actually not overwhelming. In fact, the listener can feel the tremendous dedication that was put into the record which is a rare feeling. Ivywild has a soul defined by a musician who crafts his art with a profound human spirit.
The track, “Lay Your Hands” is quite heavenly. Its intensely sentimental and includes great harmonies and deep, perceptible substance. “Stand On My Throat” concludes the album and it couldn’t be more fitting. It’s probably the most restrained track in regards to snyths and beats. The heavily poignant closer features the best harmonies on the record which cause a rapid tidal wave of emotions to rush to the listener’s heart. It may very well be Nightbed’s most accomplished work in a singular form. With the combination of subtle drums, pensive guitars, and an unfathomable yearning in Yellen’s vocals, the final song is undeniably spellbinding. Ivywild may be a complete departure in overall sound for Night Beds, but his sophomore album is a huge spike forward in musicianship, originality, and profundity. The record shines in various aspects and the only way to truly find out is to take a listen.