Album Review: 'Brooklyn Country' Group Lone Bellow Distances Itself From the Pack on 'Then Came The Morning'

Self-professed "Brooklyn country" evangelists The Lone Bellow arrived on the scene in 2013 with a rootsy self-titled debut. With harmonies borrowed from Fleetwood Mac and gravitas borrowed from The Band, it was instantly lumped in with groups like Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers and Edward Sharpe. The comparison wasn't entirely unfair: The Lone Bellow's music has that same shambolic, shopworn feel to it, plus all these groups dress like extras from There Will Be Blood (seriously, enough with the suspenders and moustache wax). But The Lone Bellow deserves a closer look. As evidenced by its second album, produced by The National's
Aaron Dessner, the band's record collections are deeper, and its songcraft subtler.

Watch the Lone Bellow Bring Rockin' Country Party (And New Songs) to 'Kimmel'

Opener "Then Came the Morning" is an ebullient sun salute with a revivalist bent, the kind of sound that ties the band to its aforementioned peers. But subsequent tunes are more nuanced. "Diners" is a lilting waltz that name-checks Waylon Jennings and sounds like him, too. Those homespun country vibes persist on "I Let You Go" and "Marietta," while standout anthem "Take My Love" sounds like Arcade Fire sounding like Bruce Springsteen, and is one of many tunes that benefits from Zach Williams and Kanene Pipkin's braided vocals. "Fake Roses," another highlight, borrows some of the classic-rock pixie dust that The War on Drugs sprinkled so deftly on its 2014 year-end favorite, Lost in the Dream.

Indeed, similar to that band, part of the fun of The Lone Bellow is playing spot the influence: James Gang here, Staples Sisters there, Warren Zevon, Faces, lots of Crosby Stills Nash & Young. But to its credit, the band channels these icons with a commensurate amount of tact and respect. It may be enough to distance The Lone Bellow from the pack -- provided it stops wearing all that wool.

This story first appeared in the Feb. 7 issue of Billboard.

The Lone Bellow - Then Came The Morning Album Review
3.5 STARS

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