Summary

This set, the Lone Bellow's debut album, is a gem. Full of haunting, passionate songs that breathe with country soul and a kind of autumnal grace, most of them written by lead singer and guitarist Zach Williams, the album has the feeling of a complete story, each track supporting the whole. Williams wrote some of these songs while waiting and hoping for his wife's recovery from a serious accident that left her paralyzed from the neck down (she eventually recovered), and perhaps that's why they have such emotional depth and range -- they were written out of need rather than written as stepping stones on a career trajectory. But that doesn't mean these sorts of songs don't have commercial appeal. They do, and with the rest of the band working and writing these kinds of redemptive songs on the same page with Williams, it makes for an impressive early catalog. Although the Lone Bellow claim to play "Brooklyn country music" (and there is a kind of contemporary country tone to their sound), there's a lot of other stuff mixed in there, from blues, gospel, folk, and slow-burning soul to indie-style rock, and there's a pop sheen too, made quietly powerful by being unassuming about it. Songs like "Tree to Grow," "Two Sides of Lonely," "You Can Be All Kinds of Emotional," and "The One You Should've Let Go," to name just a few, defy easy labels. They sound like they've always been there, and it's easy to imagine them being played on any genre station on the radio dial. This is a solid debut, made by a band that arrives fully formed and has a great future. ~ Steve Leggett