Maintaining your individuality

Bellwether gets a big sound out of sparse instrumentation

Keri Carlson

Bellwether has four members, plus contributions from guest musicians. But it hardly ever sounds that way on the band’s new album “Seven and Six.”

Most often, it seems as though only one or two people play at a time. Not that certain members don’t contribute, it’s just that Bellwether songs are patient. Every musician waits his turn.

A common form found on “Seven and Six” starts with singer Eric Luoma’s soft croon and lightly plucked acoustic guitar with a lulling atmospheric background that is only slightly audible. After Luoma’s singing verse, an instrument takes over – a twangy guitar, a harmonica or violin. By only featuring one element at a time, Bellwether’s songs never become crowded. In fact, this form only helps to intensify the album’s isolated mood.

Previous Bellwether efforts, while listenable, never departed from the standard alt-country pop so prevalent among local bands, especially those found at the Turf Club.

On “Seven and Six,” Bellwether relaxes and lets its music linger. The album is slow and dreary, a soundtrack to a cold winter night of drinking alone. The beauty of “Seven and Six” comes from the album’s spaciousness. It’s an approach similar to one that popular Minnesota band Low takes, in which each note is stretched to its fullest potential.

“Seven and Six” is Bellwether’s most stunning album because, even with a group of talented musicians, band members never try to outperform one another. Each musician is willing to be silent and wait until just the right moment.

Bellwether

album: “Seven and Six”

label: Rustbelt Records