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The Lone Bellow

Almost single-handedly shouting from the proverbial rooftops of backyard Brooklyn, New York, singer/songwriter/guitarist Zach Williams stirred up a period of creativity by scribing from a journal inspired by the temporary paralysis of his wife, whose plight was caused by a horse riding accident. From Zach Williams & The Bellow to harmony-honed The LONE BELLOW (on the strength of supporting cast: guitarist Brian Elmquist and bassist/mandolinist Kanene Donehey Pipkin), a trial year of rehearsals from 2011-2012 blossomed when Sony (via Descendent Records) signed the trio.
Described by many in the biz as a meeting of MUMFORD & SONS, The LUMINEERS and The CIVIL WARS, the band’s roots-rock motifs were underlined by the folk-ish/alt-country-defined eponymous set, THE LONE BELLOW (2013) {*8}. Produced by jazz muso Charlie Peacock (a multi-tasking solo artist in his own right), Williams’ redemptive songs of hope and honour were laid bare on the uplifting and cathartic `Tree To Grow’, `You Can Be All Kinds Of Emotional’, `Two Sides Of Lonely’ and the Matt Knapp-enhanced `Bleeding Out’.
From Top 75 to Top 50, sophomore set THEN CAME THE MORNING (2015) {*8} deserved its rave reviews. Produced this time around by The NATIONAL’s Aaron Dessner, aimed right and left or north and south of the country-rock market. New York’s answer to PAOLO NUTINI or Caleb Followill, the blessed Zach Williams sings meek Americana country from the heart, his (and the band’s) enthusiasm spreading over the likes of `Heaven Don’t Call Me Home’, `Call To War’, `Watch Over Us’ and their best so far, the cool `Come As It Is’. With a few tweaks this trio will soon take their country gospel right to the top.
One would assume that signing to a major would reap its rewards (Sony Masterworks in this case), but that was certainly not the case for 2017’s contemporary country third set, WALK INTO A STORM {*6}. In between sets they’d upped sticks from Brooklyn to Nashville, and possibly the raft of competition in this field led to downward-spiralling sales for the Dave Cobb-produced record. Nevertheless, there was merit in their harmonious hues, `May You Be Well’, `Feather’, `Time’s Always Leaving’ and the upbeat `Can’t Be Happy For Long’.
Reinstalling Aaron Dessner to twiddle the knobs, bold but underrated roots rock trio The LONE BELLOW were back in the saddle – albeit a little less country – for album four, HALF MOON LIGHT (2020) {*6}; their first for Dualtone Music. And for the most part, their drama-enthused, deep South Americana worked on the likes of standout sing-a-longs, `I Can Feel You Dancing’, `Friends’ and `Good Times’ (the Stateside DEACON BLUE, anyone?). Whilst the intimate `Wonder’ paid tribute – and tempo – to PAUL SIMON’s “Graceland”, `Just Enough To Get By’ seemed somewhat apt for a band squeezed out of the limelight by big guns MUMFORD & SONS and The LUMINEERS.
© MC Strong/MCS May2015-Feb2020

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