The Lone Bellow, after the ‘Storm,’ at Belly Up Aspen
IF YOU GO …
What: The Lone Bellow
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Tuesday, March 13, 8:30 p.m.
How much: $30/general admission; $55/reserved
Tickets: Belly Up box office; http://www.bellyupaspen.com
The Lone Bellow isn’t flashy or gimmicky. But over the course of three albums filled with earnest and charming Americana, the trio has found a devoted following and an increasingly intricate sound.
“We didn’t go the rock star route,” singer Brian Elmquist said in a phone interview from Nashville during a recent tour break. “We didn’t go for the mystique. We try to tell honest stories and true stories.”
Touring in support of its third album “Walk Into a Storm,” the Lone Bellow is back in Aspen tonight to headline Belly Up.
The band made its local debut at the Snowmass Mammoth Festival in 2014, just as it was finding a national following in the wake of its debut self-titled album. The trio’s calling card, in those early days, was their warm group harmonies. But the sound, in the two albums since then, has expanded and evolved.
“We’re just more confident to try new things,” Elmquist said. “It’s a lot more diverse sound that we can produce. … It used to be just ‘Find your harmony and go.’ Now we’re a lot more particular.”
The new album is a creative breakthrough for the band, straddling Americana and gospel sounds. It includes moody, downbeat crooners like “Deeper in the Water” and rousing, sing-along-ready vocals, driven songs like “May You Be Well” along with upbeat gems like “Time’s Always Leaving” — a dance-rock ditty reminiscent of the good-time acoustic soul of Nathaniel Rateliff.
“We really pushed ourselves sonically on this record,” Elmquist said.
Recent live performances have drawn enthusiastic responses for their blend of anthemic sing-alongs with earnest quiet moments and a willingness to take performances, as Elmquist puts it, “off the rails.”
“It’s good to have the really intimate songs and then the songs that can blow the roof off the place,” Elmquist said. “I love having that dynamic.”
The band played new territory in Europe this winter, and was surprised to find crowds singing along to songs like “Come Break My Heart Again.”
“That’s what happens live,” Elmquist said. “People want to sing along and be a part of something bigger.”
“Walk Into a Storm” marks the Lone Bellow’s first albums since moving from Brooklyn to Nashville.
Elmquist said inspiration for the songs on the record came from a deeply personal place as the band uprooted itself from New York. Since 2015’s “Then Came the Morning,” Elmquist and his wife had two children and he quit drinking after struggling with alcohol abuse. He tapped into those emotional highs and lows and, in the process, created an album with a surprisingly universal appeal.
“I hope we’re tapping into a human condition and telling a story that’s not just ours, that somebody can relate to and hear as their own story,” Elmquist said.
This personal record about emotional disconnects and bittersweet hope, also to Elmquist’s surprise, ended up reflecting a divided and divisive moment in America.
“It feels like maybe we’re not able to communicate well as a country,” Elmquist said. “I think this record is trying to speak to that.”
Back in 2013, while working on a proposed box set of archival recordings, singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge came across a group of songs that had been recorded in the late 1980s but never released.
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