Praise for Swan and Wolf
"It’s no surprise that Nathaniel Bellows is also a novelist and poet, as the pensive, literate songs here point towards someone with a penchant for the written word. An album focused on Bellows’ deep vocals and rich melodies, there are also classical influences in attendance, crafting a dreamy and haunting version of indie-folk. The tunes flow fluidly into each other, utilizing primarily acoustic guitars and pianos, and despite being full of delicate atmospheres are powerful in their emotive beauty. Those who appreciate Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and intelligent, intimate song craft are advised to get on board here."
—Tom Haugen, New Noise Magazine, May 23, 2018
"[Nathaniel Bellows'] second full length album Swan and Wolf continues his musical journey and shows his powers as a songwriter exponentially expanding from his well received debut. Bellows is a particularly well received poet with some plum publication credits to his name and even a cursory listen to the songs on Swan and Wolf illustrates how well he’s transitioned that sensibility into these musical arrangements without ever compromising them as songs. The balance of elements fueling the cuts on Swan and Wolf is expertly handled. Nathaniel Bellows has followed up his debut in exquisite fashion and solidifies his standing as one of the best indie songwriters working today."
—Markus Druery, NeuFutur Magazine, April 4, 2018
"Swan and Wolf is definitely an expansion of [Bellows'] musical vision compared to his fine debut The Old Illusions, but [his] performed poetry is never so lofty or affected by craft that it’s rendered all but inaccessible to general audiences. His voice proves to be an effective instrument for conveying the album’s emotional tenor and listeners are, more often than not, sure to turn away from these songs having derived meaning of their own from his writing...Swan and Wolf is definitely one of 2018’s more formidable independent releases and distinguished by its high level of lyrical and vocal excellence."
— William Elgin, Music Existence, April 4, 2018
"The evocatively titled Swan and Wolf is Nathaniel Bellows’ sophomore musical release heralds an artist in a constant state of evolution who has built on his stellar first album The Old Illusions with an even finer second effort that distills the debut’s strengths into an even more potent second effort...his voice [often] occupies the lower register of his vocal range, yet he’s a naturally emotive singer...Swan and Wolf is packaged with some classy bonus items like illustrations and lyrics reproduced for interested listeners, but it isn’t pretentiously handled. Instead, Swan and Wolf is a fully realized product representing this performer in the best possible way."
—John McCall, Too Much Love Magazine, April 3, 2018
"Poet, visual artist, novelist, and musician. Nathaniel Bellows doesn’t wear any of these hats more adroitly than the others but, instead, seems to possess a centralized talent manifesting itself through a variety of stylistic avenues. The lyrics for his second musical collection, Swan and Wolf, aren’t far removed from his printed poetry and share the same distinctive mix of the personal and universal grounded by another blending of significant details and artful suggestiveness...It is rare, in any generation, to find figures like Bellows, virtual artistic polymaths whose wide-ranging muse cannot be corralled by marketplace labels. Swan and Wolf is a singular experience and one sure to linger with sensitive listeners long after the final song concludes...Nathaniel Bellows’ second album definitely rates as one of the more intelligent and substantive releases you’ll hear this year."
— Jason Hillenburg, Vents Magazine, April 3, 2018
"Despite the diversity of Bellows’ talent and the relatively brevity of his discography, Swan and Wolf sounds confident from the first and never missteps in a meaningful way. Nathaniel Bellows definitely will draw considerable praise from various quarters for the excellence of the songwriting and his collaborators enliven the already fine songs with an additional spark... Many writers and performers in this vein are often criticized for a lack of variety, but working within the folk style doesn’t constrain Bellows in any way. Each of the album’s ten songs produces a different effect for listeners without ever venturing too far afield from its core strengths...Swan and Wolf is an excellent outing for this multi-talented figure whose stature will only grow from here, concurrent with his capacity for communicating with his admirers."
— Mindy McCall, No Depression, April 2, 2018
"The tracks on Swan and Wolf call up vague, elusive memories of Gordon Lightfoot, for the music and lyrics go hand-in-hand, encompassing a sublime poetic grace that’s at once expressive, romantic, introspective, and profound. Bellows’ music is more austere than Lightfoot’s and less sonically luminous, but perhaps it is more poignant because of its ascetic aesthetic properties.
Highlights of the album include “To Wait,” a softly flowing folk number with gentle colors and a melancholic flavor. I love the vocal harmonies on this tune, which are muted, yet emergent at just the right moments. “What Then” is another evocative track, riding a tender guitar and Bellows’ rich, deep tones. The music almost drifts, as if meandering down a slow-moving river in a dream. This is a beautiful song, full of pale harmonics.
“The Dove” might be my favorite tune on the album because of its relentless easy flow. Bellow’s voice is indulgent and lenient, yet exudes an intensity of emotion. “It Wasn’t” blends Celtic aromas with a touch of evanescent bluegrass flavors riding somewhere inside, giving the tune an oozing elasticity that’s contagiously pensive.
Swan and Wolf is one of those albums defined as starkly scrumptious, dreamy, and haunting. It’s an album requiring more than a single listening to fully appreciate the subtle sonic nuances. The arrangements are wonderfully wrought, and Bellow’s voice approaches the hypnotic."
—Randall Radic, BLOGCRITICS.ORG, March 30, 2018
"You've gotta hear this guy's voice!..What’s immediately noticeable about this song is Bellows’ voice. It’s shadowy and commanding; instantly snaring you like some innocent prey."
"While we’re all about being happy and upbeat and feeling free, sometimes you need to slow it down and enjoy a good song for what it is: emotional, dark, intense, and equally as freeing. This is the feeling you get from the first chords of Nathaniel Bellows‘ new track “To Wait”, which finds its exclusive streaming premiere right here, right now. As the song progresses, a dark and beautiful love affair brims within its lines for those who happen upon it.
If nothing else, this track reminds you that patience – even when you’re waiting for dissonance in instrumentals and the next line of a brand new song – is a damn virtue."
—Meredith Schneider, Imperfect Fifth (Track premiere, "To Wait," including interview, March 7th, 2018)
"The atypical rhythmic patterns and spartan arrangements of St. Even infused with the emotional vocal charge of Glen Hansard create something altogether unique: something dense with emotion but light in its arrangement, mysterious and yet also confident."
"In his new single "How High," Nathaniel Bellows proves that a voice can be both hearty and delicate all at once. The song, with its sparse guitar/piano/vocal arrangement, is literally breathtaking. It's no surprise that Bellows is also a poet and novelist - his lyrics are shimmery meditations on life, reflecting on the complexities of human existence in an unassuming yet outspoken manner."
—Geena Kloeppel, The Deli (Track review "How High," February 14th, 2018)
"We've been following this young man for some time now. He first came onto Paste's radar as the co-conspirator to Sarah Kirkland Snider's masterpiece, Unremembered (New Amsterdam, 2015). Since then he released a stunning debut (The Old Illusions) and is now preparing the release of his 2nd solo long player, Swan And Wolf.
This morning, Bellows shared "How High", the newest single from Swan And Wolf (March 30th). The contrast between Bellows' rough voice and the gorgeous instrumentation (aided by composer Timo Andres) is really striking and keeps the interest at peak levels throughout. This is a must listen."
—William June , Paste (Track review "How High" February 13th, 2018)
"For the past six years, published poet, novelist, visual artist, and musician, Nathaniel Bellows has been writing libretti for the composer Sarah Kirkland Snider. In fact, their last release, Unremembered (2015), was inspired by 13 of Bellows’ poems and illustrations.
Now back out front for his sophomore album, Swan and Wolf, Nathaniel Bellows offers a collection of ten new original songs. Today’s premiere track, “How High,” is from the new record and showcases the intricate complexity of Bellows art. One listen to Bellows deep sweeping voice and carefully thought out instrumentation, which features Timo Andres on piano, will keep your attention extremely focused. The song has a slow building catchy conclusion that ends with layered vocals of Bellows pleading “say how high.”
Bellows music moves beyond the ear as each track from Swan and Wolf is paired with one of his illustrations that integrates the song lyrics. This gives the project a depth you won’t find with many releases."
—Christopher Anthony, The Fire Note (Track premiere "How High" February 13th, 2018)
"“Keep in Mind,” [a] sparsely arranged song is mostly acoustic guitar and vocals. Bellows’ deep baritone gives a feeling of stoicism similar to Johnny Cash or Crash Test Dummies but the lyrics are really worth delving into. They are intense and poetic. Evocative imagery like “The storm folded into the stone” or “like the ground intuits every rise, every nuance of plow” show why Bellows’ book of poetry was called “smart and powerful” by The New York Times Book Review and Library Journal."
"American folk singer songwriter Nathaniel Bellows brings poetry to this music. As well as being a singer, Nathaniel is a published poet and novelist. This is clear in the imagery of new track Keep In Mind. Animal and nautical images paint a picture in this melancholic track. Echoey, bassy acoustic guitar backs up Nathaniel’s mournful voice.
Keep In Mind is from Nathaniel’s new album Swan and Wolf. Check it out below and, if you are as seduced as we are, grab a copy of his album."
—Graeme Smith, York Calling: Discovery (track review)