CDUNIVERSE.COM CDUNIVERSE.COM A BAND GROWS IN BROOKLYN The Lone Bellow has a promising future in folk.
CDUNIVERSE.COM A BAND GROWS IN BROOKLYN The Lone Bellow has a promising future in folk.

5/5 Stars

Many fans of music do not realize it, but folk music was popular before bands such as Mumford and Sons and the Lumineers came into existence. Folk group’s fiddle-strumming and powerful belting has charmed the ears of its listeners and has had them longing for new music to fill the void when bouncy, sugary pop music dominates over the airways. And with folk staple the Civil War’s recent hiatus still looming in my memory, I have found a new band the Lone Bellow and their self-titled album.

On every track of their debut, the Brooklyn-based trio demonstrates their unique passion and musical talents. The Lone Bellow is all about balance — the fine line between folk-rock instrumentals and poetic lyrics, and finding the perfect ratio of somber ballads with strong, hopeful songs.

The band wastes no time setting its pace with the album’s first track, “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold.” It gets off to a thundering start, as the first sound the listener hears is the band’s rich harmonies.  The trio’s voices are resonant and vibrant, and when paired with their powerful instrumentals, they create a full and impactful sound. The lyrics paint a picture of a promising future, although the mournful songs that follow challenge this sentiment.

“Bleeding Out,” the album’s first single, is very similar to “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold.” Declaring that “we are full of the color that’s never been dreamed,” the song gives yet another hopeful message. The percussive beat and quick pace make this feel like a song of rejoicing and create a triumphant quality.

One of the standouts on the album is “Teach Me to Know.” A stripped-down departure from the business of percussion and guitar allows the listener to focus on the soulful quality of the trio’s voices. The track showcases the band’s vivid harmonies and provides necessary balance for more complex songs like “Bleeding Out.”

The slower and sweeter songs “Tree to Grow” and “Looking for You” best showcase the band’s meaningful lyrics. Although the instrumentals on these songs are much softer than the others, the tracks find their power in the ability to weave stories and in their heartbreaking sincerity. Go ahead and shed a few tears during these somber harmonies.

At times, a few tracks flirt with the thin line between folk rock and country twang. This may be off-putting for some listeners, but the differing sounds of “You Don’t Love Me Like You Used To” and “Fire Red Horse” demonstrate the Lone Bellow’s ability to blend varying influences. For the most part, it pulls this off seamlessly, creating a cohesive yet diverse mix of songs.

The Lone Bellow’s one blunder is the final track, “Button.” The song’s jazzy feel seems more suited for a swanky 1920s club than a folk-driven album.  While it showcases singer Kanene Pipkin’s unique vocals, the track doesn’t quite seem to fit with the preceding songs and gives a diminutive end to an otherwise exceptional album.

With such a successful debut album, it will be interesting to see how the Lone Bellow continues develop its unique style and blend its many influences and soulful songs.

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