And that's not an accident. Lead vocalist and principal songwriter Zach Williams is from Georgia and the uplifting choruses in his songs pay a distinct homage to Southern gospel. Borne out of a horseback riding accident that nearly killed Williams' wife and a fertile creative community who relocated with Williams and his wife to New York, the Lone Bellow plays barn-raising stompers like "Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold" as well as simple, lilting country tunes like "You Don't Love Me Like You Used To." They also play plenty of Americana with "Fire Red Horse" as an example.
But it's the welding of voices that distinguishes the Lone Bellow from other jangly, family-style bands that are currently in heavy rotation on the tour circuit: Williams' clear, earnest tenor sounds like it was made to sing only with his fellow band members Kanene Pipkin and Brian Elmquist.
During his wife's temporary paralysis, Williams filled a journal with his thoughts and his friends later encouraged him to turn the writings into lyrics. But first, he had to learn to play guitar and sing at the same time, which is actually much harder than it looks. Fortunately, he did so and after reconnecting Elmquist, his former college friend, in Brooklyn, and enlisting Pipkin to lend her soulful alto, the three became The Lone Bellow.
Their exuberance shines through every song, infusing even somber material like "Two Sides of Lonely" with a kind of joy that could only come from artists who wholeheartedly believe in, and adore, what they do for a living.
All photos by Louis Kwok