First Thoughts: The Lone Bellow, “Then Came The Morning”

This is only my 20th post on record for my WordPress blog, but oh… is it a big one. As I type this I perch cross-legged on my bed here in Upstate New York, while my girlfriend (the biggest Lone Bellow fan I know) is in Brooklyn blasting the band’s latest record Then Came The Morning out of her television set thanks to NPR First Listen. Not exactly a high rate of quality over our shared phone call, but it’s more about the sharing than it is the inner audiophile.

For you see, this is our band. It’s been since our initial discovery of their work in early 2013 (as I chronicled a few posts ago), and since that time their debut and every live show since has been building to this moment. This next step, the divide between the brilliance of a musical beginning and the wonder of what the next steps down the path might hold for a trio as gifted as these Bellow are. And Then Came The Morning is holding up it’s end of the bargain. 

I’ve covered a lot of music and heard a lot of songs since I started making music as essential as the life blood in my veins, but few have made an impact and a cut as deep as The Lone Bellow. Few bands have left a space of anticipation in my heart as deep and nerve-wracking as a chasm waiting for that next bit of new material, this next bit of material. Then Came The Morning soars like birds would be envious to (“Call To War”, “Telluride”), snaps along a jagged blues rocking edge (“If You Don’t Love Me”,  “Cold As It Is”, “Heaven Don’t Call Me Home”), and cuts to the very marrow of music at it’s most real (“Watch Over Us”, “Marietta”, “Fake Roses”).

And that’s always been the thing about The Lone Bellow. From the very earliest origin of frontman Zach Williams’ pre-Bellow solo album Story Time to the here and now listening to these new stories, these chances to gather around and be spellbound all over again. They’re real and as honest as ourselves and the faces we pass most days, some of which we know and some we never will. I can sit inside these tales and feel like just for a fraction of a moment, I lived them or broke my heart to them or experienced something truly otherworldly in their smallest sparks of simple joy.

Joys, sadness, a heavy turn before the shadows leave and the sun can rise again…. this band doesn’t hesitate before taking whatever road lies ahead. To Zach…. Kanene Pipkin… Brian Elmquist. Thank you for not only providing those roads for these days ahead whatever they may be, but for bringing two people together in the love of music no matter how far they may be physically.

I sit here now after one whole turn through Then Came The Morning, deep in phone discussion over tracklists, Aaron Dessner production (you magnificent bastard), early critiques and just… soaking it in. Never more excited at the glorious possibility of music from three people who feel so much like friends and beautiful acquaintances. Never more excited to share it with one of the people I care about most in the whole world.

I guess all that’s left to say for now is, so when are you three coming to play some concerts?

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