The last time Michael Nau and Whitney McGraw visited the Beachland, they were in Page France.
Playing the Beachland Tavern last night, they were working with a new incarnation of the group, now known as Cotton Jones. The two have a radically different sound and outlook these days.
Both Page France and Cotton Jones made their name as folk outlets. But this all-encompassing genre seems to have dismissed the different complexities of their respective sounds.
Cotton Jones have a completely different feel onstage than they do on record. On their albums, they sound dreamy and far-away, layering Nau and McGraw’s vocals together until they are almost one. In concert, the blues they sing so well brings clarity to their voices and gets right up in your face with a power not found on CD.
There was also some odd instrumentation in the set that merged new and old conventions, including an Ominchord.
If Page France are the pop-hook side of the duo (along with some sweet folk on the side), Cotton Jones encapsulates American blues, reflects an older, wiser band.
Openers Pepper Rabbit sound like a folkier and less polished Death Cab for Cutie, but they fold reverb and looping techniques into their songs that can be found in the new breed of low-fi indie rock. They opened up with one of their strongest songs, “Red Wine,” and kept the momentum going until they left the stage. —Rachel Hunt; photo by Helen Harry
Did you go to the show? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments.
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