Americana, or, to be more precise, the folk-roots of American music, has seen a resurgence over the past two or three years, and the Lone Bellow are the musical embodiment of everything that has made the genre fashionable. Big, sing-a-long choruses, a string accompaniment, bags of heart and soul, and a sheer desire to please the listener. Then Came the Morning is a great record, by a band who have the song writing ability to be around for years to come.
Aaron Dessner, from the acclaimed band The National was recruited by the Lone Bellow to produce this record, their second, and the subtleties Dessner brings to his own band are replicated here, and to great effect. The string accompaniment is not overbearing, nor overused, and gives songs such as ‘Fake Roses’ added depth, drawing out the frailties in Zach William’s voice. William’s style of singing bears more than a small comparison to that of Caleb Followill, from the erstwhile rock band Kings of Leon; coarse and emotional, in a way which is both marketable and palatable to the ears.
Another comparison can be made to the Lumineers, those of the ubiquitous ‘Ho Hey’ fame. Harmonies between the band members are part of the Lone Bellow’s charm, as they were with the Lumineers, and Williams is ably supported by Kanene Donehey Pipkin and Brian Elmquist, their voices heard most as the songs build towards the crescendo, most evident on ‘Take My Love’, which is tailor made to be sung at festivals across the world in 2015. Both Pipkin and Elmquist are able singers in their own right, and Pipkin herself gets a starring role in ‘Call to War’, her voice recalling the bluesy Lucinda Williams, as she sings over a violin backed soundscape. This is perhaps the highlight of the record, and encapsulates the sound of the band. It is full of heart, and the harmonies on this track soar. It is a track which is aimed to sound like the band are singing straight to the listener themselves, something they achieve with aplomb.
There is a country-blues hoedown on the electric ‘Heaven Don’t Call me Home’, and this provides a different side to the band. If the Lone Bellow decided to do a record entirely in this manner, it may get tiresome, but as a respite to the emotionally charged tracks on the record, it works well. If there was any track designed to get live audiences dancing, ‘Heaven…’ is tailor made for the purpose.
Then Came the Morning can be chalked down as a success for a band trying to find their niche in a crowded market, and it should act as a springboard for further success. Audiences around the world will struggle to resist to fall for their charm.