There’s not a lot of info out there yet on these guys — their webpage is mind-bendingly simple — but it’s hard to believe that lead jammer Zach Williams couldn’t play the guitar and sing until a friend told him to, considering he’s so good at it now.
Williams’ wife was left nearly paralyzed after a horse riding accident (the girl in the band? I don’t know. That’s the kind of reporting you get pre-Wiki-page). After pouring his emotions into poetry, Williams was told by a friend that they seemed to be the buds of songs and that he should probably work on getting good enough to actually play them. So he did. Then he moved from Georgia to Brooklyn and started a band.
Long story still kinda long, The Lone Bellow’s debut album dropped last Tuesday, January 22, 2013 (self-titled).
This is always kind of a facepalm story for me. I’ve heard it before from the likes of Anthony Kiedis, who had “Under the Bridge” hidden away in a poem notebook until Rick Rubin found it and helped make history. My own poetry is always too “you had to see it, it’s clever” to be song and my lyrics flat out “please don’t look at that.”
Crippling personal issues aside…
I’m starting to think that we’ll look back at the early 20-teens as the start of the re-birth of folk rock. Sure, there was a previous time we all loved acoustic guitars. But in the ’80s you looked silly playing one with all that eyeliner. When we finally re-realized that all the best rock songs break down quite nicely acoustically, we put the thing on a pedestal and acoustic jams became delegated to special “Unplugged” performances in the ’90s.
But now they’re the working wo/man’s music. Bands like The Lumineers, Mumford and Sons, Delta Rae, Trampled by Turtles and Of Monsters and Men get big air. (Was Jack Johnson our collective starter wife?) Even larger electric guitar-oriented bands like Alabama Shakes and Band of Horses are growing beards and diving into that dirty, bluesy sound.
Like some others, The Lone Bellow drop acoustic blues trifectas, earnest harmonies and even boast a mandolin. But they also sound a bit more deep-south, more wholesome and sing-it-to-the-skies. If the blues is personal, they’re a chorus of angels there to harmonize and feed you chicken (not in a weird way. In a Grandma way).
I have yet to find a song of theirs that doesn’t leave me reaching for the Eppie. Maybe that means it needs a solo (maybe it’s another personal issue), but the stuff is already pretty lush.
Give it a listen. It might be your thing, too.
[ Here’s tune that’s a bit faster/brighter: “Carried Away“. ]