Night Beds - Country Sleep

A treasure in its own right, ‘Country Sleep’ captures Night Beds’ ability to turn the most heartbreaking song in to a dreamy lullaby.

Label: Dead Oceans

Rating: 7

‘Country Sleep’ was written at Johnny Cash’s former home. And it shows. Opening to the a cappella tones of ‘Faithful Heights’, the surrounding heartache of this record is set from the off, as Yellen reaches out to his ‘lost’ lover (“when the sorrow comes and you don’t know why, climb into my arms, I’ll hold you through the night”). In fact, many of the songs on this album are driven by agonisingly honest vocals: the softly picked acoustics of ‘Cherry Blossoms’ and ‘Lost Springs’ almost tiptoe around the troubled lyrics. This is a record which blends poignant croons characteristic of Grizzly Bear with the steel-stringed hums of a Southern porch at sundown, to echo the simple introspection of Ryan Adams’ ‘Love Is Hell’.

It’s up to ‘Ramona’ then, to really get things going, as the sound fades in and out of a barn-stomping country twang and soft, twinkling melodies. And following is single ‘Even If We Try’, a song that’s already making its rounds on the Internet – no doubt helped along by the harrowingly dark video that accompanies it. The gradual, orchestral ballad stands out just as much, even when buried amongst a collection as beautiful as this, and really captures Night Beds’ ability to turn the most heartbreaking song in to a dreamy lullaby.
If you’re left waiting for a bit of percussion to kick in though, the ‘oohs’ that echo through to ‘22’ and ‘Borrowed Time’ are met with soft drums and strings that give an almost symphonic feel to the midsection of the record. There’s even a piano thrown in for good measure on ‘Wanted You In August’, before fading back into the yearning melancholy of the closing numbers (“oh, how I’m longing for you” Winston Yellen confesses on ‘Was I For You’).
This record might not quite affiliate the soundtrack to your stereotypical image of a hoedown, but it’d more than cater for the boozy walk home under starry skies. And while Night Beds have already drawn incessant comparisons to Bon Iver, take this pairing lightly: ‘Country Sleep’ is a treasure in its own right.