Bill MacKay and Nathan Bowles

Album Title: Keys
Record Label: Drag City
Review by John Noyd
(192) Page Views


Bill MacKay and Nathan Bowles - KeysBill MacKay and Nathan Bowles - Keys

Chicago guitarist Bill MacKay and Durham banjo player Nathan Bowles have long established careers as stellar sidemen, so it seems inevitable they would one day end up collaborating on a project together. The result of long-distant interactions after an initial encounter being booked as a duo became a steadfast friendship, “Keys,” grew from mutual influences, intuitive roots and technical respect. Drawing from a rich background in bluegrass, country-gospel and jazz improvisation, delicate investigations play with spaces between the sharp plucked notes and bittersweet cantilevered phrases; casually natural ballads swinging in fitful meditations as rustic percussive shuffles wash in thoughtful clockwork. Still waters run deep as each player’s tentative methods build passive tapestries whose inventive interventions and hesitant tensions resonate in lonesome emotions and soothing resolution.

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