Charming Vocals Shine Through the Clutter on Cotton Jones' 'Tall Hours in the Glowstream'

Cotton Jones

Tall Hours in the Glowstream (Suicide Squeeze)

If the Cumberland, Md., duo Cotton Jones is anything, it's definitely cozy. And there's something to be said for a cozy band­­—consistency can be comforting, and at least there's never a risk that the group will go off in some experimental new direction. After Michael Nau, the lead singer and founder of the now-defunct Page France, left that group to pursue his solo project, he began performing with ex-Page France bandmate Whitney McGraw as the Cotton Jones Basket Ride. (After a few releases, Nau is content to call the duo simply Cotton Jones.) Nau and McGraw have constructed a lo-fi Americana outfit that's rooted in soothing vocal harmonies and laid-back compositions that emphasize the rich blending of the pair's vocals. It's a sort of call-and-response style, with McGraw answering Nau's increasingly countrified calls with her own ghostly rebuttals. On the group's second release, Tall Hours in the Glowstream, the main focus is still rooted in the duo's compatibility, but the production gets messy—multiple layers of instrumentation replace the group's previous minimalist aesthetic of a droned-out organ and simplified guitar parts. But while the album is a bit cluttered at times, it still manages to exhibit the same languid tendencies of their previous work, especially on standout tracks "Glorylight and Christie" and "Somehow to Keep It Going," both of which highlight McGraw's vocals. This won't serve as the best introduction to the band, but that's exactly what Nau and McGraw seem to be aiming for.