“I want it to bring comfort,” The Lone Bellow guitarist Brian Elmquist says. “But it’s not all hard conversations. There’s a lot of light and some dancing that needs to happen.” Brian is reflecting on Half Moon Light, the band’s highly anticipated new album.
Half Moon Light is an artistic triumph worked toward for years, earned not by individual posturing, but by collective determination and natural growth. With earthy three-part harmonies and songwriting as provocative as it is honest, the trio made up of Brian, lead vocalist Zach Williams, and multi-instrumentalist Kanene Donehey Pipkin creates sparks that make a stranger’s life matter or bring our sense of childlike wonder roaring back. On Half Moon Light , The Lone Bellow mix light and dark to muster a complex ode to memory, a call for hope, and an exercise in empathy. Anchored in the acoustic storytelling that first so endeared the band to fans and critics, Half Moon Light also takes more chances, experimenting with textures and instrumental fillips to create a full-bodied music experience. The result is The Lone Bellow’s most sophisticated work to date.
That wholehearted embrace of collaboration defines Half Moon Light. The record marks a return to recording in New York with Aaron Dessner, whom the band counts as both a hero and a friend. “We already had a friendship with Aaron and a strong, shared understanding of our musical vision,” Zach says. “It’s really important to us to be a part of a community of musicians. We like that way of making something. Aaron showed us a new way of trusting. His idea of bringing in Josh Kaufman and J.T. Bates was such a beautiful gift. The meekness that these friends brought to the table was something that we will never forget. A sense of controlled fury. Lightning in a shoebox.”
“Aaron has a powerful quietness about him,” Kanene says. “A lot of people I meet in the music industry have lots of bravado, and it’s something I have trouble believing. Aaron doesn’t have that. He is a joy to work with. A true friend.”
The stories behind the songs matter––but they aren’t what matters most. In the end, The Lone Bellow’s music needs no explanation. Just listening offers a salve and a shelter. “In my own perfect little world, I would be able to put the music out and not talk about it––just, Here. Bye. See you next time,” Zach says, then laughs softly. “I do hope someone will find this music in a peaceful moment, when they can turn it on and get lost in the story and the sound.”