Songwriter's tunes feel like a bracing, purposeful march through the post-holiday doldrums

Before 2016’s L O N G EP, Pacific Northwest-via-Chicago-via-Kentucky songwriter John Bellows was known for his goofy sense of humor, but this release marked a turn. Bellows told his label, Planted Tapes, that there is “absolutely zero humor” on L O N G. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an enjoyable listen.

Recorded on an eight-track at various bedroom locales in the span of a few years, the EP finds Bellows using poetic lyrics (“Wine-stained lips slur a string of confessions, like beads of blood that refuse to clot,” he sings on “No Memory”) and oft-spare, serpentine arrangements to explore the complexity of relationships and the elusiveness of contentment. The tempos are slow, but they feel more like a bracing, purposeful march than a trudging plod — perfect for the first week of January, when already-broken resolutions require realism chased with a shot of perseverance.

Calico Boy, a new-ish project from Time & Temperature, provides local support, along with Jen Powers and Matthew J. Rolin of the Powers/Rolin Duo, which, this past summer released 7/29/18, a cassette of two first-take improvisational pieces featuring 12-string guitar and hammered dulcimer. (Safe bet)