The Lone Bellow graced the Commonwealth Room in Utah with its gospel-infused Americana and angelic three-part harmonies on Sunday, February 5th. The Nashville-based trio launched their 17-song set with “Wherever Your Heart Is,” a new tune from their just released Love Songs For Losers album then they dropped back 10 years to their debut record with “You Never Need Nobody.” The 400+ adoring fans who crowded the stage only needed to hear Tyler James hit the first few notes on the keyboard before they started singing the opening verse “You never need nobody. You never been alone. And I try to get your affection. And all I ever do is wrong.” Lead singer and acoustic guitarist Zach Williams happily stood back and let the audience start the number. We were in for a communal, old-time revival with roof-raising harmonies.
The Lone Bellow includes Zach Williams on lead vocal and guitar, Kanene Donehey Pipkin on vocals, bass and mandolin and Brian Elmquist on guitar and vocals. For this tour they added drummer Julian Dorio (The Whigs) and keyboardist and trumpeter Tyler James (Escondido). The trio, formed in NYC over a decade ago, define their sound as Brooklyn Country; a genre defying blend of folk/country/rock/blues/and gospel. “Americana” seems to be the catch-all categorical box, but many of their big vocal production numbers could be considered as “indie-pop.”
On “Just Enough To Get By” Pipkin showed off her rockin’ vocal prowess singing lead vocals. “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold” turned into a crowd-pleasing, country-pop sing-along. Brian Elmquist set his guitar aside to play keyboards for a meditative version of “Dreaming,” a tune from the new album. Tyler James added a pensive trumpet inflection that enhanced the song’s wistful sound. Their uplifting rendition of their catchy hit single “Honey,” kept the audience in sing-a-long mode. “Walk it out in the middle of the street now. In the middle of the night. Where we use to go, when we didn’t know better.” They ended their set with another recent hit “Count On Me” that sports mantra-like chants. “Count on me, if I can count on you.”
Prior to the show, the band hosted an online Love Songs For Losers contest where fans could submit their most embarrassing dating/breakup story. They promised to share the winning entry on stage. Todd, a lucky (or unlucky) contest participant, won with his story of a disastrous first date during a snowstorm. He joined the band on-stage, read his entry, and received a small trophy. This entertaining interlude demonstrates the band’s intimate connection with their fans. The show felt like an interactive choir performance. For an encore, the trio walked into the middle of the crowd and played “Homesick,” unmic’d with only an acoustic guitar, in beautiful three-part harmony. They ended with a grand-finale collective cover of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s “Islands in the Stream.” Impressively, the crowd of thirty-somethings knew the words to the 40-year old song.
The Flagstaff-based duo Tow’rs opened the show with “Kitchen,” a beautifully harmonized song with equally alluring lyrics. “You made me dance in the kitchen with you. If I was the night then you were the moon.” The husband and wife team of Kyle and Gretta Miller were joined by Blonde Holly’s Dan Bagley on drums and keyboard. Gretta Miller took lead vocal on a dreamy “Going” from their 2017 release Grey Fidelity. Kyle Miller resumed lead with “Girl In Calico.” The duo are set to release a new album this spring and they gave us a preview with “Baker’s Dozen,” a song coming out of the pandemic isolation. Like a baker’s dozen, this song embraces the unexpected bonus of the lockdown providing an opportunity to connect with loved ones at home, without worrying about the constant need to tour. “I Must Believe in the Morning” is an equally hopeful new song about optimism in the face of life’s tougher challenges. Gretta Miller sings “I must believe in the morning to bring the storm to its knees.” Tow’rs music is introspective and uplifting with an organic spiritual hopefulness. They prepared us well for a full evening of soul-soothing music.
Who: The Lone Bellow w/ Tow’rs
What: KRCL Presents: The Love Songs For Losers Tour
Where: The Commonwealth Room