Last April, while playing a sold-out show at T-Bones Cafe and Record Store, The Lone Bellow frontman Zach Williams announced to the crowd that they were soon to begin working on a second album with the help of producer Aaron Dessner, who is known for his work as a member of The National.
If you happened to miss the band’s show last April, you may have had the opportunity to see its performance in November 2015 when they returned to The Hub City to play a show at The Thirsty Hippo. But, if you haven’t had the opportunity to hear its music, you’re missing out. The band’s newly released album “Then Came The Morning” is proof.
This album is full of the soulful vocal performances that the band has become known for. Gospel-like harmonies and excellent lyricism string together the 13-track album to create a masterful work of modern folk artistry.
“Then Came The Morning” begins with the album title track followed by its previously released single, “Fake Roses,” and a third track titled “Marietta.” The style of these tracks is reminiscent of the band’s first self-titled album, “The Lone Bellow.” They display another passionate vocal performance from Zach Williams, beautifully complemented by the almost eerie back-up vocal performance from lead guitarist Brian Elmquist and mandolin player Kenene Pipkin.
From there the album picks up the pace with the fourth track titled “Take My Love.” This track features a driving drum track and vocal performance that seems to be all rise and no fall. But from there, the album takes a slower tempo with an haunting track titled “Call to War,” which features a tremendous lead vocal performance from female vocalist Kenene Pipkin. This track marks the beginning of a mellow run of songs in the middle of the tracklist.
From here, the album takes listeners for a turn with “Heaven Don’t Take Me Home” and “If You Don’t Love Me.” These tracks are what really sets the album apart from the band’s previous work. “Heaven Don’t Take Me Home” shows off a side of The Lone Bellow that many listeners may have not had the opportunity to hear before.
The track features overdriven guitar riffs and a fast-paced tempo that bears resemblance to the like of Southern musicians such as Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Charlie Daniels Band.
While the band returns to a slower and less energetic feel in “If You Don’t Love Me,” one thing it does maintain is a certain grit they have not shown in other works. The choppy blues-like track features the same rugged guitar style that “Heaven Don’t Take Me Home” does, it mixes it back in with the band’s tremendous harmonious singing performance.
“Cold As It Is,” one of the album’s more popular songs, is featured as the second-to-last track. You may have caught the band playing it on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” a few weeks ago. I could only imagine that it makes for a tremendous live performance. It features one of the catchiest melodies that I have heard from The Lone Bellow.
The final track is titled “I Let You Go.” This song almost seems as if it’s a thank you to listeners. The slow ballad seems as if it’s directed specifically to the listener with a chorus line that says, “I let you go and hoped you’d come back to me.” It’s almost as if the band is trying to make a sincere connection with the listener at the end of the album. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a devoted groupie or a complete stranger to The Lone Bellow, I suggest that everyone do themselves a favor and give this album a listen. And who knows? At the rate it has been going, we could see The Lone Bellow back in Hattiesburg very soon.