Although Night Beds tour as a full fledged band, the project is very much the creation of singer/songwriter Winston Yellen in the studio. Formed in 2006, Night Beds has released a few EP's between then and 2011, but Country Sleep stands as the project's debut full length album. Yellen makes quite the entrance with one of the best releases in the first quarter of 2013.
Country Sleep was borne out of a low period in Yellen's life. After losing both his job and girlfriend, he moved around from state to state and job to job for half a year before moving to Nashville and the location that would inspire this album. He rented an old home in the woods, previously owned by Johnny and June Carter Cash no less, and started work on what would become Country Sleep.
There must be something to this whole 'record an album in a secluded location' genre, as it has produced a number of great records in the last few years, from Bon Iver to James Vincent McMorrow, and you can add Country Sleep to that list. After opening with the short vocal piece "Faithful Heights", a stunning representation of Yellen's gift as a vocalist, the album kicks into gear with "Ramona", one of its more musically uplifting tracks. Dare I call this track catchy?
Night Beds' music draws on folk, country and rock elements. Acoustic guitars and strings dominate throughout and the album has a very 70's feel and sound to my ears. Sweet melodies abound in songs like "Wanted_ You In August", "Lost Springs" and "Even If We Try". The harmonies are lush, with Yellen's voice the album's strongest instrument. The gorgeous ballads "22" and "Cherry Blossoms" particularly stand out on an album full of stand-outs. An important new voice in the singer/songwriter world.
Country Sleep was released February 5, 2013 on the Dead Oceans label.