The Castellows: Fast-Tracked to Country Success With Debut EP - Flagpole
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The Castellows: Fast-Tracked to Country Success With Debut EP

The Castellows: (l-r) Lily Balkcom, Ellie Balkcom and Powell Balkcom. Credit: Ben Humphrey

Three young Southern belles growing up on a farm in a small town ending up as rising stars in Nashville is what country music marketing dreams are made of, and The Castellows are the real deal. Having freshly released their debut neo-traditional country EP A Little Goes A Long Way on Feb. 9 under Warner Music Nashville/Warner Records, the sisters are currently finding themselves a long way from home on Times Square billboards, Hulu commercials and sold-out marquees.

The Castellows are made up of sisters Lily, Ellie and Powell Balkcom, who grew up in Georgetown along the Alabama border in southwest Georgia. They began singing and playing instruments at a young age, having a lot of time to devote to practicing as they were homeschooled and working on the family cattle farm. Spending their lives nurturing this musical family bond has led to what the group is best known for: perfectly angelic harmonies and on-stage chemistry. Even the band’s name is an homage to family, Castellow being the Balkcoms’ great-grandmother’s maiden name. 

Ellie, Powell and their brother Henry are triplets, and the three attended the University of Georgia together. Ellie worked with the football team and pursued management information systems and international business, Powell studied agriculture business with intentions of returning to the family farm, and their younger sister Lily pursued her pilot’s license at Middle Georgia State University. Taking advantage of dual enrollment courses while homeschooling, 20-year-old Ellie and Powell were able to graduate from college within two years. And 18-year-old Lily is in fact a licensed pilot.

Ben Humphrey

It wasn’t until November of 2022 that they played original live music together for the first time, and at the Georgia Theatre in downtown Athens of all places. The Balkcoms told CMT that the trio gigged around Athens doing covers “for fun,” and when asked to open at the Georgia Theatre, they wanted to have original songs to perform. Ellie had started writing songs in her second year of college, but didn’t bring her sisters in on it until this opportunity. By the night of the Georgia Theatre show, The Castellows had three new original songs.

After this performance, The Castellows began posting covers on Instagram and TikTok that quickly drew attention from country music lovers. Powell told Country Now that music had always just been a passion and never something the sisters considered as a career until they began sharing clips on social media. Their traditional yet modern sound began catching the ear of music industry insiders early in 2023, and by that spring they were already being invited to label meetings.

The Castellows joined Warner Music Nashville/Warner Records and immediately went to work in the summer of 2023 recording its first song, “No. 7 Road,” co-written with singer-songwriter Hillary Lindsey. It’s a sentimental introduction to the group, inviting the world to the women’s small town front porch—their “little slice of heaven”— through delicate harmonies (Lily, lead vocals) and a mid-tempo beat accented by acoustic guitar (Ellie) and banjo (Powell).

“Every moment spent in the presence of The Castellows is nothing short of captivating,” said Warner Music Nashville Co-Chair and Co-President Cris Lacy in a press release announcing the label signing. “Their sibling harmony, their musical prowess and their songs—that tell not only their own stories, but generational truths about their family—combine to create a sound that is genuine and original. Ellie, Lily and Powell are superstars. Full stop.”

The newly released EP A Little Goes A Long Way was produced by Trina Shoemaker (Sheryl Crow, Nanci Griffith, Queens of the Stone Age), with The Castellows writing or co-writing six of the seven tracks. “Hurricane,” a cover of Leon Everette’s 1981 hit, has had a surge of success on social media already as one of the singles released ahead of the EP. On Spotify it has amassed more than 1 million streams. Although it’s not a product of their songwriting, this track perfectly demonstrates the sisters’ ability to conjure an element of darkness and dusky intrigue in their music that contrasts with their dreamy sound and soft looks. Although sonically it stands at odds with the rest of the EP, it’s symbolic of the group’s lore—one of the first songs they performed together.

Overall, the band’s acoustic rootsy approach to country maintains a nostalgic yet youthful energy that distinguishes it from the country pop genre. “Heartline Hill” is one of the tracks solely written by Ellie, and it also features the most robust instrumentation. Throughout the rest of the project, the guitar and banjo tend to take a backseat and let the skillful harmonies steal the show. Not this time, though. The song immediately picks up with a torrent of banjo that sweeps up the listener and carries them straight through to the other end. Although the subject matter doesn’t vary widely, and might be exactly what you’d expect, A Little Goes A Long Way is solid groundwork for young musicians swiftly scooped up by the music industry.

The Castellows have enjoyed a strong start to 2024 with the release of this project, a string of tours coming up, and an impressive list of accolades. The band was named a 2024 CMT “Next Women of Country” class, 2024 CMT “Listen Up Artist,” Pandora “Artists To Watch,” Country Now “Artists To Watch,” and Nashville Lifestyles “Group You Need To Know.” Catch The Castellows performing in Athens tomorrow evening, Thursday, Feb. 22, at the 40 Watt Club.

WHO: The Castellows
WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 22, 7 p.m. (doors)
WHERE: 40 Watt Club
HOW MUCH: $15 (adv.), $20