I toss around the words “haunting,” vulnerable,” and “raw” often when reflecting on music, probably 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 at the end of the day I’m most drawn to.
It should come as no surprise then that these are the exact adjectives 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, my experience seeing Night Beds perform live at Off Broadway taught me otherwise. Halfway through the set as Winston was thanking the handful of people huddled around the stage for coming, he slipped in a 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.. and yet I have no desire for this trance to wear off anytime soon.
Was I For You fades into a mesmerizing unreleased track starting around :52, 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.
Fuel/Friends recorded their 22nd Chapel Session over New Years with Night Beds, one that should not be missed.
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.
Also not to be missed: Heather over at Fuel/Friends’ wanders and ruminates 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.”