“Now you finally left me, done with all your lying, joy comes in the morning, you won’t see me crying. Then Came The Morning, it was bright, like the light that you kept from your smile”. This is what Zach Williams sings in the lulling title track of Brooklyn trio The Lone Bellow’s second album, dominated by a sense of relief and positivity. Thirteen tracks of pure, earnest, beautifully crafted indie-folk. Actually, it is not easy to label their genre – it’s one of its own, characterized by the overwhelming three-part harmonies and the dramatic depth of the lyrics. Another striking song, Marietta, maybe the darkest in the whole record, goes: “I let you in again, I let you in again, you sleep with the lights on, what you call your family are gone, I let you in again and patiently wait for your storm”.
This two examples I gave you so far will make you understand that this band’s songwriting draws inspiration from true, sometimes painful experiences of real human lives. Hence the urgent passion they convey. After all, Williams began writing songs after his wife tragically fell from a horse and suffered from a temporary paralysis. Despair, hope, tribulations were the themes of their self-titled debut, produced by Charlie Peacock (the Civil Wars, Holly Williams) and released in 2013.
This time the trio (lead vocalist and principal songwriter Zach Williams, mandolin player and singer Kanene Pipkin, and singer-guitarist Brian Elmquist) chose producer Aaron Dessner of The National. They recorded most of the vocals in single takes in the stunning and picturesque setting of Dreamland recording studios, a nineteenth-century church sanctuary turned into a studio in upstate New York.
The songs span from ballads like Watch Over Us, that mix folk and gospel, to upbeat, high-energy country songs like Heaven Don’t Call Me Home, with galloping electric guitars. According to singer Zach Williams, one of the sources of inspiration of Then Came The Morning was the Vegas-era Elvis Presley, but it makes us think of folk acts Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers and The Civil Wars as well. However, the way they merge powerful vocal harmony and heartfelt lyrics is quite unique.