On their debut album, Dying Stars, Seattle band Evening Bell pours a razor sharp blend of classical training and unadulterated passion into eight psychedelic-country tunes. It’s the kind of album you might expect to come from Ennio Morricone and David Bowie watching Twin Peaks together. A collision of cosmic country and spaced-out psychotropic melodies. Cinematic lyricism meets Seattle barroom honky-tonk. The two principal songwriters in Evening Bell– Caitlin Sherman and Hart Kingsbery – transcend the constraints of nostalgia to create something truly different. Sherman’s interest in Film composition shines through these songs in a kind of cosmic-cowboy punk, while Kingsbery’s bittersweet country heartbreak brings a gravitas to the music. These aren’t dilettantes in Seattle’s Ballard country music scene, but two people who’ve lived hard and worked hard, bringing a stronger perspective to the hard realities they sing about in their music. To be released August 12, 2016, Dying Stars has the kind of self-assurance you usually find in veteran Americana bands, the kind of weight that comes from knowing your own vision of American music.
The David Bowie comparison is not thrown around lightly as his ethos of mixing classical composition with rock and roll is one of the main tenets of Evening Bell’s own process. Owing in large part to Sherman’s lifelong musical education and the fact that Bowie was the first artist that Kingsbery and Sherman, now partnered in life as well as music, bonded over. From the opening spacey twang of “This Bar Room Ain’t Your Church”, a definite ode to Gram & Emmylou, to the Northwest midnight cowboy meets roadhouse chanteuse make-out music of “Tail Light” to the lilting comfort of “Strange Mama” Evening Bell’s musical influence mingle around the bar. Through his time slinging drinks at the go-to watering holes in the epicenter of Seattle’s country music scene Kingsbery brought together expert percussionist Jason Merculief (J. Tillman, Sera Cahoone, Alela Diane), jazz-trained Aaron Harmonson to fill out the rhythm section on bass and Olie Eshleman on the haunting pedal steel. Merculief, Harmonson and Eshleman not only fill out the band but also were, and are, integral to the continuing evolution of Evening Bell.
Born of midnight rendezvous and clandestine love this album evokes less star-crossed lovers and more the intangibility of our deepest desires, known and unknown. There’s darkness in the past, it’s always there but as we move forward, as we grow and we learn to love again, it doesn’t seem as daunting. A fleeting wraith eclipsed by the promise of a new day. Dying Stars is Evening Bell’s ode to, and journey from, the darkness.