Country Sleep (studio album) by Night Beds
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Country Sleep is ranked as the best album by Night Beds.
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This album is rated in the top 13% of all albums on BestEverAlbums.com. This album has a Bayesian average rating of 75.5/100, a mean average of 76.7/100, and a trimmed mean (excluding outliers) of 76.7/100. The standard deviation for this album is 16.7.
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Colorado native Winston Yellen's LP debut, 2013's Country Sleep, comes parceled with a distinct visage of a muggy, summer evening complete with a chorus of crickets heard through screen doors and fireflies that illuminate the periphery. As a humble fire smolders and crackles, Yellen's voice emanates soulfully conjuring emotions no doubt aided with liquid courage. As remarkable as his voice is, it's the insight he provides through his poetry that paints Yellen as a troubadour wise beyond his years. There's an intrinsic sense of forsaken, romantic languishing running through the album like a submerged river that's just as devastating as it is beguiling. Still, it's the authenticity of Country Sleep that sets it apart from its melancholic peers. It's a fully exposed, armorless logbook of soreness that exudes unyielding fragility at every turn. Seemingly medicinal for the youthful artist, the album purges the poison that torments him, repurposing it as propellant for something uniquely gorgeous. In other words, a wildfire that produces a wonderfully fertile soil.
Country Sleep commences in the most unguarded of ways. Faithful Heights, an a capella vocal track, is a declaration of support, almost in an attempt to reach out to the listener as a plea to remain hopeful and use the tracks that follow as emotional support. It's a wondrous foreward serving as instructions to learn from anguish rather than have it anchor you. Yellen's voice is soaring here and needs no instrumental buoying. He howls, "And in the morning light, we'll be sure to find, a kind of love so strong, It will make us cry faithful heights." Faithful Heights is the most confident of openers, simultaneous announcing itself in the most humble of fashions. The album's largest injection of energy comes in the form of second track, Ramona. The track, certainly the most conventional of the LP, is fueled by a resilient drum beat and supported by a full band backing. Even Yellin's voice receives reinforcement here from a fellow Yellin, Abe, and Alyson Holland. The track evokes visions of the American heartland and sun-swept memories of simpler moments. Despite an uptempo, cheerful timbre, the lyrics detail a declaration a love and a promise of a brighter future that seemingly remains unrequited. Subsequent track, Even If We Try, arrives as a swaying, violin-soaked bubbling crescendo that evolves into a rhythm-heavy, country-tinged outro. It's a track that can be best described as baroque-folk and there is no better talisman for the term. Yellin coos, "Even if we try, to make ourselves alright, to mend our severed lives, while all the rivers rage, descend upon the sage, alone on willowed eves, I lift my voice to sing." Something truly heavenly radiates here, shimmering in and out with subtle grace.
Fourth track, the numerical '22', may be the most all-encompassing track from the record, existing as the sonic footprint for Country Sleep. The piece is a stirring partnership of Yellin's woebegone vocals and a twinkling organ that gives the impression that the track will dissolve at any given moment. Much like the preceding Even If We Try, '22' is often overwhelming in its aesthetic beauty, almost weeping throughout. "A part of me, I call a stranger, this part of me, I found in danger, we saw the night, you fleshed it out, across time, wearin' my heart’s smile," Yellin details. The most unabashedly southern outing on the LP would most certainly be fifth track, Borrowed Time. Billowing out at a subdued rate and punctuated by extroverted bass, the song wouldn't be out of place in a Texas tavern nearing midnight. However, unlike the twangy karaoke ballads, the track has deep-rooted sentiments. Yellin croons, Now the sky unfolds it's blackened roads, life as it was never known, go on, see your part and see this through, maybe, maybe it might move you." Cherry Blossoms follows as another exhibition of restraint that results in a spring-loaded release of tension in the shape of twelve consecutive shouts of "Take me home". Wanted_You in August is an example of a straight-forward composition acting as a showcase for Winston Yellin's magnetic vocals. Recalling either a missed opportunity or an unreciprocated adoration, he sings, "My love is wrong, he's set it wrong, how do we..never again."
The album hits another creative high with eighth track, Lost Springs. Yellin rhapsodizes on anxiety-riddled self-accusations which results in a track that's effortlessly human. He asks questions and jumps to conclusions before answers can be heard. Sonically, the track is warm and inviting but the chill of the violin features emphasize the presence of nervous doubt before Yellin himself asks his flame, "How are you going to live your life alone?" and "I will never leave you." The final respite comes in the form of a final confirmation, a firm promise amidst a haze of doubt. Penultimate track, Was I for You?, introduces a folk-infused acoustic guitar arpeggio before an astonishing organ passage that remains one the finest moments on the record. TENN ends the album with a more traditional folk effort, acting as an epilogue to the stories of crippling sorrow and unflinching devotion. It's not so much what Yellin has learned that is noteworthy but rather his ability to remain as he is throughout his tribulations. He's acknowledged his shortcomings and is well-aware of his misfortunes but his heart remains open, willing to love while adrift in a sea of loneliness. "Floating on lost springs, to faithful heights I cling, sorrow stole my youth, what's left I'll give to you."
Country Sleep is part Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan, so evocative and yet so ethereal. The record is supremely delicate and never attempts to shroud or recast the precise order of events in question. Comparable to Joy Division's Closer in regards to just how personal of a testimony it is, Country Sleep packages long-form meditations into controlled bursts of ornamental beauty, both poetic and sonic. After the critical misfortune surrounding second LP, Ivywild, one could be lead to believe that Country Sleep was just lightning in a bottle for Winston Yellin, however, it more likely chronicles a slow burning candle, representative of a distinct mood during a place and time that cannot be reached again. A candle that burns once and only once.
"Oh God, I've forgotten how to pray,
Make me a man like you did with Abe,
Faith can carry a man to his grave,
Would you bury my bones by the garden gate?"
1. Even If We Try
3. Lost Springs
This album is absolutely beautiful. I mean, I cannot overstate how good this album really is. Take lead singer Winston Yellen’s beautiful voice and skilled songwriting and you’ve got this impressive work. The album starts off with the acapella “Faithful Heights" that will immediately grab your attention and make you say “Hey, this guy’s got a good voice." It will make you pay attention and it doesn’t slow down from there. Songs of sadness, longing, joy, you name it, it’s here and it’s well done. Some of the best indie-folk I’ve heard in awhile.
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