You gotta just feel blessed whenever the banjo is being played for good rather than evil, and Nathan Bowles offers us one of those moments of respite with 'Nansemond', a record that looks dark but is deceptively bright, recorded loudly and proudly to best and most fully express the Americana it admires.
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It has been purported that those who are geographically isolated are much more creative than those who keep themselves within a bustling beehive of activity. Multi instrumentalist Nathan Bowles is a case in point. Residing in the mountains of South West Virginia, his music conjures the rugged landscape of his homeland, using contemplative, cinematic compositions.
Bowles considers himself first and foremost a percussionist, but his second solo album ‘Nansemond’ shows that he is a virtuosic banjo player. His instrumental deftness doesn’t stop there: ‘Nansemond’ also deploys percussion, piano, tapes and - for the first time - his vocals, which are robust and ..
Despite the likeness to records of a similar ilk, Bowles plays inventively and effortlessly, between improvisation, impulsive compositions, and field recordings, using techniques and experimentation that finds common ground between the likes of Dock Boggs, Dink Roberts and Etta Baker.
The most notable accomplishment on ‘Nansemond is the use of both modern and traditional techniques, combining Southern Vernacular hillybilly music with melodic, modern compositions. The results are often hypnotic and moving, though at times a little bit too samey.
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