One of the things that a reviewer of new music looks for is differences from previous works. The Lone Bellow‘s latest, Walk Into a Storm (due out September 15), merits particular scrutiny in this regard, owing to the band’s decision to relocate from Brooklyn to Nashville between albums two and three. Specifically, does the new location mean this up-and-coming trio is shedding their “alt” prefix and embracing the traditional Country/Gospel genre?
Such a journey would not be a long one for the band. Gospel-infused Country is the foundation of what they do. Forcing round pegs into square holes with driving beats, breakneck Rockabilly, and soul-stirring tunes makes them unique. Their ability to hold on to the former while pushing the limits of the latter is their identity.
The first of the 10 songs on Walk Into a Storm gives us a strong indication that The Lone Bellow has dug in and holding on to that identity. As “Deeper in the Water” begins, it could well be a traditional a Country song. It becomes more soulful as it goes, capped off with Ms. Pipkin’s haunting yet powerful vocals stealing the melody during the chorus. “Deeper” also steers clear of typical Country themes, adopting the tendency of the Rock/alt-rock genre towards more ambiguous lyrics.
I feel the pounding of the clock
The ground beneath me starts to rock
You do your best to make it stop
What’s happening here?
As on their first two albums, the songs on Walk Into a Storm are scattered randomly on the Country music bell curve. Songs such as “Come Break My Heart Again” and “Can’t Be Happy for Long” land close to the middle, and will please the ardent Country fan.
For the fans who prefer their songs further from the center line, Walk Into a Storm offers “Feather” and “Time’s Always Leaving.” A little disappointing that neither packs quite the punch as their previous album’s “Heaven Don’t Call Me Home” but still satisfying.
Also missing is anything quite as poignantly beautiful as “Call to War” (also from their second album). But these shortcoming as easily forgiven and forgotten as the new songs offer their own gratifications, building deeper into rather than expanding further from, the familiar and comfortable blend that is The Lone Bellow.
- In my initial review of The Lone Bellow, I opined that Ms. Pipkin sang lead on but one song, and suggested we needed more. On “Walk Into a Storm,” she sings lead on one song. Sigh.
You can listen to their album here.
Here’s the official video for “Time’s Always Leaving”