Fans of traditional and throwback country styles will love Luke Bell. His self-titled album came out earlier this year to immense acclaim — Rolling Stone dubbed it one of the best country albums of the year so far, and earlier tapped Bell as a country artist you need to know. They’re right on both accounts.
Since country is so varied and full of so many different strands, it’s worth noting that Bell is a complete throwback to soft and smooth ’70s western styles that made Dwight Yoakam and Roger Miller popular. The Wyoming-born country singer spent some time in Austin and New Orleans, and back on the ranch in Wyoming, before finally settling down in Nashville to put together this album. He released a couple before this, but Luke Bell is his first with the support of Thirty Tigers, and the record is a succinct distillation of what Bell wants to accomplish.
His country pedigree is part of what makes him honky-tonk to the core, but he tempers that with an irresistible rawhide baritone, which is the kind of winning combination prompted Zane Lowe — not necessarily a DJ known for his country proclivities — to premiere one of Bell’s tracks “Where Ya Been” on his Beats 1 Radio show.
Now, the Wyoming-born country singer is heading out on a fall tour behind his breakout record, but before he sets out to charm fans across the country with his old-school country style, he’s done something that proves he belongs firmly in 2016 — covered John Lennon. Bell took on “Jealous Guy” and gave it a hang-dog charm that Lennon couldn’t quite imbue it with, twisting the original into a countrified front porch jam and nailing the whistled interlude. Check that out above and keep your eye on Luke Bell, he might sing like he’s from fifty years ago, but he’s part of country music’s bright future.
Here’s his upcoming tour dates:
11/26: Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar
11/27: Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
11/28: Davenport, IA @ Village Theater
11/30: Appleton, WI @ Riverview Gardens
12/1: Minneapolis, MN @ Uptown VFW
12/2: Omaha, NE @ Reverb Lounge
12/3: Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room
12/5: Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey
12/7: Austin, TX @ Stubb’s
12/8: Houston, TX @ Raven Tower w/ The Deslondes
12/13: Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
12/14: Asheville, NC @ The Grey Eagle
12/15: Nashville, TN @ Exit/In
Luke Bell is out now via Bill Hill Records. Get it here.