Michael Nau Mowing on LP + Download
The music of Michael Nau sounds effortless. For the past eight years, Nau has written songs with his wife Whitney McGraw under the name Cotton Jones. Along with their rotating cast of auxiliary members, Nau and McGraw kept a busy schedule of releasing records, rehearsing, and touring. Along the way, Nau would track song ideas. There was a stockpile of these recordings - little sonic experiments, layering exercises, the occasional fully-formed song - nestled away in the Cotton Jones compound in the tiny Appalachian city of Cumberland, Maryland, waiting to be pulled from the shelf and ushered into the sunlight.
So with the help of a few musician friends, Nau sifted through those recordings. Given the sporadic formation of the songs off of Mowing there is a surprising continuity and timbre in mood. Album opener "While You Stand" kicks things off with little more than a delicate acoustic guitar line and a modestly hummed chorus, the song creates the inviting aura of sunlight coming through the kitchen window on an early Saturday morning.
Like so many classics in the Cotton Jones canon, songs like "Your Jewel," "So, So Long" and "Unwound" conjure the sounds that linger on lonely stretches of the radio dial, where Cat Stevens, Harry Chapin, and Randy Vanwarmer crackle on with their infinite humble appeal. Elsewhere on Mowing, you can hear Nau's beguiling experiments - the bossa nova cadence of "Smooth Aisles," the woozy chaise lounge instrumental "Mow," the baroque pop of "Winter Beat." These songs sound like they could belong in any era of Nau's career.