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Acts to Watch: The Lone Bellow

If you haven’t heard about The Lone Bellow yet, get ready, because chances are you’re going to hear their name a lot this year. The latest in a string of acts to emerge in the new-folk vein, this Brooklyn-based trio is poised to hit it big with their self-titled debut, already available on iTunes and set for wide release next week.

With the momentum already created by the likes of Mumford & Sons and The Civil Wars, trying to make a go of it as a country-tinged folk band might seem a bit risky, if not anti-climatic. Yeah, country and folk are big right now, but the flip side is that the market is already in danger of oversaturation. That being said, my personal take is that all concerns will be alleviated when you hear The Lone Bellow. Their music draws a bit from pop/rock, a bit more from country, and adds a twist of Appalachian bluegrass, all surrounding a collection of songs with outstanding hooks. Think The Lumineers with a bit more polish, or The Civil Wars with a bit more energy.

Speaking of The Civil Wars, if the vibe of The Lone Bellow reminds you of them just a little bit, there’s a reason for that—they share a bit of common ground. They both had their debut records produced by Charlie Peacock, and they’ve even toured a bit together. But make no mistake—The Lone Bellow is not riding anyone’s coattails musically, nor do they need to. They have what it takes to stand on their own.

As for the music itself, I find it to be refreshingly authentic and honest—and there’s a reason for that, too. The songs on this debut album were reportedly written by frontman Zach Williams out of a need to process some serious emotions surrounding an accident that nearly left his wife completely paralyzed. The songs led to a band, and the band led to a recording…you get the idea. The point is that the expression on this record doesn’t appear come from an ambition to ride the neo-folk train, but from a need to express, period. That comes out very clearly on the songs, in my opinion. It isn’t a revolutionary sound; it’s just a sound that is remarkably honest, and the result is just plain fantastic music.

I’ve embedded two videos below: “Teach Me To Know,” and the band’s latest single “You Never Need Nobody.” Both are recorded with a sort of “unplugged” feel compared to the actual album tracks, but they are both great examples of The Lone Bellow’s passion and range. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m very excited about this band. I cannot wait to see what happens with them this year.


About the Author


Music blogger Rob Burkhardt has been a fan of country music since he was a child, cutting his teeth on the sounds of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Reba McIntyre and George Jones. In the words of the now-legendary Barbara Mandrell song, he was "country when country wasn't cool." Nowadays, Rob is both intrigued and excited about the mainstream crossover appeal of modern country, as seen in the success of artists like Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts and Lady Antebellum. Even so, Rob's personal tastes in country music remain "old school," tied to the great legends of country. When he's not blogging about country music, Rob Burkhardt holds a day job as a middle school teacher, and is an avid sports fan. He lives with his wife and two teenage girls in southern Ohio.

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