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 mantle
Elvis postcards on the fridge
Ed lays softly by the ringer
Baby’s sleeping in the crib
Old broken taped up tail light
On momma’s Monte Carlo
She don’t open all the gas bills
Just leaves it on the dashboard . . . .
Your heart is breaking
I hear what you’re saying
You don’t have to tell me anything
He won’t come around again
She don’t open that front door
She hears that low and lonesome sound
She 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)