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Night Beds: Country Sleep (Dead Oceans)



Considering this project's name, the album's title and the calming effect of many of the delicate songs on this full-length debut by Nashville's Winston Yellen, the temptation is to describe it as a collection of unthreatening alt-rock lullabies.

But Yellen is up to something more complex: His compositions balance elements of sorrow, loss and desperation with the comfort of companionship and emotional repair. He delivers them in a lovely, well-tempered high tenor not unlike that of Fleet Foxes' Robin Pecknold or Bon Iver's Justin Vernon.

The beautiful single "Ramona" combines Yellen's delicate voice, a gauzy melody of piano and guitar and a driving beat atypical of the rest of the album. "Borrowed Time" is a restrained, introspective country-rock stroll, complete with touches of steel guitar and the barest hint of a two-step rhythm. Framed by gentle strings and harp, "Even If We Try" emphasizes the delicacy of Yellen's quest for healing.

Often, like a good magician, Yellen leaves his audience wanting more. Such tunes as "Faithful Heights" and "Was I For You?" (both less than two minutes long) draw you in immediately, but they feel like sketches that could've been fleshed out more. "Wanted You in August," which contains maybe the album's most gorgeous combination of instrumentation and voice, clocks in at well less than three minutes.

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