It is impossible to ignore the influence of gospel music (and a hint of Elvis) in Then Came the Morning, the sophomore album from The Lone Bellow. While they are officially from Brooklyn, their Georgia roots are apparent.
The band has added more intricate orchestration, more horns and strings, and a new producer, Aaron Dessner of The National. Zach Williams, who writes the majority of the lyrics and does lead vocals, remains the face of the band. But Brian Elmquist has matured on the guitars and joins Kanene Pipkin as backing vocals for most tracks. In the standout track on this album, “Call to War,” Pipkin takes lead vocals and gives the band more soul.
The album’s first single, “Fake Roses,” is a prime example of the country music storytelling quality of The Lone Bellow’s lyrics. With the sounds of slide guitar and harmonica, Williams sings,
Fake roses on the mantleElvis postcards on the fridgeEd lays softly by the ringerBaby’s sleeping in the cribOld broken taped up tail lightOn momma’s Monte CarloShe don’t open all the gas billsJust leaves it on the dashboard . . . .
Your heart is breakingI hear what you’re sayingYou don’t have to tell me anything
He won’t come around againShe don’t open that front doorShe hears that low and lonesome soundShe don’t answer anymore.
Rather than rely on the tried-and-tested formula of their first album, The Lone Bellow has found a way to mature and grow as artists, making a more complex second album. (Descendant Records)