Welcome to Throwback Thursday, a weekly series showcasing an album, single, music video or performance of a bygone era and its personal and/or cultural significance.
“Breathing in, breathing out, it’s all in my mouth / Gives me hope that I’ll be something worth bleeding out,” The Lone Bellow singer and guitarist Zach Williams wails on “Bleeding Out,” the standout track from the Americana trio’s eponymous 2013 debut record. Immersed in a deep-rooted, ravaging resolve to trudge through life’s devastating wreckage, the tune bursts from the soul. During a concert at New York’s intimately-set Rockwood Music Hall in early 2012, Williams, Kanene Donehey Pipkin and Brian Elmquist don’t hold back: from the visceral songwriting to their commitment to tight harmonies and skin-peeling musicianship, the performance is likely to send goosebumps buzzing down your spine.
“Even if I was lonely, even if I was broke / Even if all the dogs in the pound let me know / Saying it’s never over, it never ends,” the first verse unravels, painting an underdog’s redemptive story from tragedy to triumph. “Grab the guns and the ammo, let us descend / Through the darkest of prisons, and break their defense / We would ride on the cafes, rules will be bend / Oh, remind us all days are outnumbered I’ve spent / And peace it comes easy, like mist on a ridge.”
The simplicity but tenacity of the lyric fuels Williams’ voice to cut like a knife, sharpened by each paralyzing blow. They could have let catastrophe crush their core, but instead, they absorb the pain as makeshift weaponry to conquer their demons. “We all of the beauty, that has not been seen / We are fool on the color, that’s never been dreamed / Well, nothing we leave ever dies,” Williams heaves in the final stanza. His exasperated sigh exposes his vulnerability, and renewal and deliverance are then etched across his face. The three minute tribute instantly cemented their role as one of today’s most ambitious and riveting live bands.
The Lone Bellow have since gone on to release three studio albums in total, including the just-released Walk into a Storm (out now).