Then Came The Morning on CD in a plastic, shrink-wrapped, jewel box complete with a booklet loaded with liner notes, lyrics, and credits. How 90s of them. No cheap cardboard packaging for this trio.
Once you open the case you'll also realize that there is nothing cheap about the music inside of it either. The group clearly doesn't suffer from the sophomore jinx, proving their eponymous debut was not beginner's luck.
Lone Bellow remains true to the their sound but their vocals have improved, especially in the case of lead singer Zach Williams (not that they were shabby before). His voice is stronger, more self-assured, and the powerful singing of Kanene Donehey Pipkin continues to be an asset. She is the band's secret weapon and deserves more than the single lead vocal ("Call to War") she is allowed here. Together, with lead guitarist Brian Elmquist, they produce some of the better harmonies in Americana music today.
The Lone Bellow continue to be billed as a country act but that term doesn't do justice to their music. This isn't a knock on country music, it's just that their sound embraces so much more than that. Their uptempo numbers rock, especially "Heaven Don't Call Me Home." The foot stomper features a loose, high energy, gospel trio supported by 1950s, greaser rock guitar. "Cold As It Is" and "If You Don't Love Me" are also for listeners who like to kick the volume up a notch.
The title track is made for radio and the blending of the three voices together are what makes it something special. "Watch Over Us" is another another vocal gem.
It's not just the group's singing that stands out. These thirteen self-written tracks are not lightweight in subject matter. They are thoughtful and dig deeply beyond pop music's most common theme: love in all of its forms. Then Came The Morning is by no means a party album but it will not depress you either.
The disc was produced by The National's Aaron Dessner who, based on the artistic success of this entire set, was a very good choice.
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