Release Date: Feb 5, 2013
Record label: Dead Oceans Records
Every so often a vocal comes along that knocks you for six. Winston Yellen – the lone wolf prowling seductively behind the Night Beds name – is in possession of just such a pair of heartstopping lungs. A crystal croon that brings to mind Jeff Buckley as well as the stately influence of Rufus Wainwright, Gram Parsons and Ryan Adams, his is an utterly devastating siren call.
Although the act of listening to music is aural in theory, if done correctly, a song can create a multisensory landscape. Winston Yellen’s debut Country Sleep builds an intangible place you’re immediately delivered to upon first listen. During “Faithful Heights,” the album’s stunningly tragic opener, you find yourself listening intently, as though Yellen’s lyrics and vocals, which bleed with pathos, hold a weight you’ve only experienced when reminiscing on a love that slipped through your fingers.
At the end of last year musicOMH went a bit stalky over Night Beds. He played three shows in London over the course of a week… and we were there for all of them. The 23-year-old from Colorado Springs provided solid support for Sharon Van Etten at the looming Shepherd’s Bush Empire and Wild Nothing at the more intimate but still sizable Lexington.
"Well, you wonder why I always dress in black. " "I wear black on the outside, 'cause black is how I feel on the inside. " Six of one, half dozen of the other, right? And yet, what do we have to show for the past three decades of trying to find common ground between the barroom and the bedsit? Ryan Adams' Love Is Hell? Pernice Brothers? Hell, don't sleep on a couple joints from the first Pete Yorn album.
The first full-length studio album from Nashville-by-way-of-Colorado indie folk/Americana outfit Night Beds, the Bon Iver, Sun Kil Moon, and Fleet Foxes-inspired vehicle for singer/songwriter Winston Yellen, begins appropriately with an a cappella piece ("Faithful Heights"), which arms a despondent lover with the understanding that "Whenever you get lost, man, hold my hand. " It's a trick that Yellen utilizes throughout Country Sleep, reinforcing the comparisons to the aforementioned "Bon Kil Foxes" by relying on the familiar tropes of the emotional dust bowl that is 21st century country-folk -- much of the record was written during a period of upheaval that found the early twenty-something artist jobless, partner-less, and living out of his car. It's a familiar sort of desperation, yet it's delivered with the effortless gait of a young man who's more than willing to carry the weight of the world, as long as he gets to sing about it.
Night BedsCountry Sleep(Dead Ocean)Rating: 3. 5 out of 5 stars A cabin in the woods; long nights spent aching over sorrows that only acoustic guitar can salve; and an octave range that cascades into a fine falsetto: Listeners may be forgiven for thinking they’ve stumbled upon a Bon Iver redux when first encountering Night Beds and their full-length debut Country Sleep. But Winston Yellen, who records under the Night Beds moniker, isn’t just riding on the coattails of recent trends or Pitchfork scenes.
Artists naming their albums in a way that gives the listener an idea about the contents within is nothing new, but Winston Yellen has gone the extra mile and seems to have named his entire music project to represent what he wants his songs to sound like. An album called Country Sleep by an act titled Night Beds isn’t one you should expect to flail around energetically. The title of Country Sleep is true to both of its components.
Celebrity cabins, road-trips, boozing, chasing hot girls with names like Ramona and Lorraine — this sounds like an awesome weekend getaway! Toss in some opulent recordings made by music school buddies to chronicle all of your romantic defeats and hardships and you get Night Beds. The Nashville alt-folk outfit has rapidly become a vehicle for singer/songwriter Winston Yellen, peaking with the release of their gorgeous new full-length, Country Sleep. A sprawling landscape of gliding guitars, electro murmurs, delicate piano, and warm string arrangements, Country Sleep has just enough of a Nashville stamp to be classified as folk.
Let’s picture an unlikely scenario. Attracted by the band’s name, and having not bothered to listen to any of the actual music until the costly rights have been purchased, an advertising firm devises a TV campaign centred on a Night Beds tune for one of the leading sleepy-time furniture suppliers. To match the mood of the music, the resulting ad spots would have to abandon the routine practice of starring a happy couple sleeping soundly in a spotless bedroom.
‘Country Sleep’ was written at Johnny Cash’s former home. And it shows. Opening to the a cappella tones of ‘Faithful Heights’, the surrounding heartache of this record is set from the off, as Yellen reaches out to his ‘lost’ lover (“when the sorrow comes and you don’t know why, climb into my arms, I’ll hold you through the night”).
Young singer-songwriter’s debut hints at a bright and beautiful future. James Skinner 2013 Winston Yellen is the brainchild behind Night Beds, a 23-year-old singer-songwriter blessed with a striking voice and inclination toward woozy, languorous songcraft. His presence marks Country Sleep as, if not one of the most electrifying debut albums you’ll hear this year, then certainly among the most promising.