Zach Winters — They Were Longing For a Better Country 

No, Mumford & Sons hasn’t released their second album yet. Norman singer/songwriter Zach Winters’ fourth LP, “They Were Longing for a Better Country,” blends all the aforementioned into a haunting, but peaceful work that’s more personally convicting and beautifully recorded than what you’ll typically find in the local coffee shop after hours. 

“Country” is rich with delicate, acoustic interludes (I especially enjoyed “While You’re Making Other Plans”) and Winters’ voice, which performs harmonic acrobatics while whispering pastoral and fatherly wisdom.

“And the Little Child” is the centerpiece, chugging along on a fat acoustic bassline provided by brother Alex, as it pulls along a load of biblical symbolism. A midway breakdown transplants the listener to a desert, where the singer’s voice surrounds him as the “fear of the Lord.” It’s Christian music for Christians who seek the presence of God, not for those who just talk about it.

Soon after comes the other standout, the lovely ballad “Small Boat,” which ebbs and flows like the tide implied by the title. Winters’ voice echoes so murkily with the minor piano keys that the track couldn’t have been recorded anywhere but the bottom of the ocean.

What a terrific effort from a local talent. Buy it at zachwintersmusic.com. —Matt Carney

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