Michael Nau’s latest long player, Some Twist, finds the Maryland native following the breezy, off-kilter charm of last year’s Mowing, his solo debut. And that is to say it’s great. Album opener “Good Thing” bursts with the gleaming originality that has come to define Nau and his wife Whitney McGraw’s collective work as Cotton Jones, namely the albums Paranoid Cocoon and Tall Hours in the Glowstream. Gentle flourishes of piano, guitar, and pedal steel accompany Nau’s lonesome porch lament on “Wonder”, while the grooving gospel glow of “Light That Ever” beautifully captures the unique and imaginative world that is the record as a whole.
Some Twist is also notable for some new and rewarding creative directions. “Scumways” finds Nau exploring new wave yacht-rock, while “Scutter” oozes with slinky bedroom-pop funk in a way that only he could do it. “The Load” chugs mightily with a JJ Cale-tinted swamp groove and free-jazz sax freakout. However, the record’s finest moment comes back down to the honeysuckle charm that exists at the album’s core — the great bounty of which lives within “Oh, You Wanna Bet?” (noticeably the only song on the album to prominently feature McGraw). Sitting right in the record’s center it possesses a timeless, almost just-out-of-reach feeling that shines on so many of their greatest works (“Cotton & Velvet,” “Glorylight and Christie,” “Wax Hand Asleep In A Glove” among them). Here is a homey sweetness that isn’t afraid to peer beyond the frontier, nor take its time doing so. Amongst washes of piano, reverb and lonesome, faraway harmonica, the duo profess patient, profound truths, bringing with them the elements of water, time, questions, and an acceptance in the absence of answers to those questions. Always personified, always along for the journey. words / c depasquale
Related: The Lagniappe Sessions: Michael Nau