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Night Beds
- Country Sleep

Undoubtedly talented, Yellen is yet to grow into himself – but give him time.

Brendan Telford

Apr 17th 2013 | Label: Dead Oceans/Inertia
There's something incredibly calculated about Country Sleep, the first album from Nashville's Night Beds – or more correctly, 23-year-old Winston Yellen. From the unassisted a cappella mourning of Faithful Heights (aided by the slight echo of a cavernous room) to the swelling strings on Even If We Try and the maudlin undertone to countrified closer TENN (“Sorrow stole my soul/what's left I'll give to you”), Country Sleep is a full-scale endeavour to break your heart. True to form, Yellen has the requisite bank of experiences to write from, seeing as the past years have seen him jobless, girl-less, listless, until borrowing a lot of money and bunking down in a pre-Civil War cabin that The Man In Black himself, Johnny Cash, used to live in to write these tunes. So far, so Bon Iver (and Justin Vernon did it much better with his debut For Emma, Forever Ago).

Yellen does have some tricks up the sleeve, though. The dark murmur of Cherry Blossoms that coalesces into a cathartic release is stirring, whilst the hushed warmth of Wanted You In August is the kind of rousing understated glory that Elbow's Guy Garvey writes in his sleep. And oh man, that voice. Yellen cries and wavers with a sonorous timbre that breaks through the ceiling and melts the iciest of souls.

But at the end of the day, Country Sleep never stops feeling contrived. Tracks like Lost Springs are indebted to a lifetime of hardship and heartbreak, yet it never feels truly real, more a construct, a “imagine what it would be like if…” scenario. Undoubtedly talented, Yellen is yet to grow into himself – but give him time.

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