I toss around the words “haunting,” vulnerable,” and “raw” often when reflecting on music on this blog, perhaps too often. I think this ends up being the case because I choose to write about music that strikes me, that I’m passionate about and these are the qualities that I end up being most drawn to.
I hope that this does not result in a “boy cried wolf” scenario though, as these adjectives are the exact ones that I am overwhelmed with as I have been listening to Night Bed’s recent debut Country Sleep. Winston Yellen’s voice is as rough and ornately unadorned as it is expansive.
Vulnerability is at the core of this album, both lyrically and musically: lyrically vulnerable in the delicate fragility and frankness of Winston’s lyrics and musically so in the bare a capella moments throughout the album that captivate, yet at the same time make me feel uneasy, as if I were walking in on or listening into a conversation not meant for anyone else’s ears. Yeller, however, takes these moment of vulnerability in stride, boldly beginning both the album and his live concerts with the yearning a capella track “Faithful Heights” and then fading into the arguably most catchy song off Country Sleep, “Ramona.”
Just when I was sure that I could not be anymore overcome with Night Beds, my experience last night seeing them perform live at Off Broadway taught me otherwise. Midway through the set as Winston was thanking the handful of people huddled around the stage for coming, he slipped in the comment along the lines of “I’m sure you guys have something much more important to be doing tonight.” I cannot speak for the entire audience, but I for one couldn’t disagree more. Even one day later, I am still quivering a bit from the show.. yet I have no desire for this trance to wear off anytime soon.
Even If We Try:
even if we try, to make ourselves alright, to mend our severed lies. well all the rivers rage, descend upon the stage. running melodies, I lift my voice to sing
Was I For You:
This song fades into a section of a song that isn’t on the album that I’m not familiar with, but am nonetheless mesmerized by, especially starting at 1:25, don’t miss the floating, delicate, intertwined harmonies:
but all you doubters and all you cowards, you and your heartache is not enough to know who you are and all you dreamers and unbelievers, you and your heartache, it’s not enough to know who you are, but all you dreamers and unbelievers, you and your heartache, it’s not enough to know who you are
22, lush and lonesome:
Fuel/Friends recorded their 22nd Chapel Session over New Years with Night Beds, one that should not be missed even in the company of other mesmerizing chapel session performances by the likes of The Head and the Heart, Tyler Lyle, The Lumineers, Typhoon, and Field Report, just to name a few. Download Night Bed’s entire session for free here. Be sure to prepare yourself for Winston’s haunting cover of Seattle singer-songwriter Damien Jurado’s “Everything Trying”
I’ll be sailing on your deep blue eyes
Be sure to also check out Heather over at Fuel/Friends’ wander and ruminate with Winston on everything from the vulnerability of his songwriting process, to the relationship between art and commerce, intensity, exposure, and catharsis. Probably the most introspective and engaging interview, or better put conversation, I’ve read in a long time:
“Because when you’re so close to art, you’re always in trouble.”