Bringing The World Home To You

© 2024 WUNC North Carolina Public Radio
120 Friday Center Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
919.445.9150 | 800.962.9862
91.5 Chapel Hill 88.9 Manteo 90.9 Rocky Mount 91.1 Welcome 91.9 Fayetteville 90.5 Buxton 94.1 Lumberton 99.9 Southern Pines 89.9 Chadbourn
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WUNC Music
WUNC Music is curated locally with songs that inspire, energize and bring joy to listeners across North Carolina. It’s a place for music discovery and a home to old favorites.

Nathan Bowles' 'The Road Reversed' Tears Open A Hole In Folk Music

Nathan Bowles' (center) new album, <em>Plainly Mistaken,</em> comes out Oct. 5.
Brad Bunyea
Courtesy of the artist
Nathan Bowles' (center) new album, Plainly Mistaken, comes out Oct. 5.

Nathan Bowles' clawhammer banjo music has always lived in three planes of existence: Rooted in the past, with a foothold in the present and an eye on the future. But as much as we think about folk music speaking across time — its seeking melodies and lyrics ever-resonant — Bowles wants to pluck sound from space itself.

For his fourth album, Plainly Mistaken, Bowles expands to a trio for five tracks, featuring double bass player Casey Toll (Jake Xerxes Fussell, Mount Moriah) and drummer Rex McMurry (CAVE). From the first moments of "The Road Reversed," a melody spirals outward from Bowles' rhythmic banjo, heavily bowed bass and rolling percussion. The piece was originally written in 2016 while he was on tour with Steve Gunn, but really only took shape when Bowles began to rehearse with his new members.

As the 10-minute track evolves, there are moments of punk-driven percussion and elliptical melodies turned all the way around, but its simultaneously ecstatic and droning composition recalls moments from A Monastic Trio by Alice Coltrane, another experiment in mixing up the trio format from 1968. Like Coltrane, Bowles tears open a tiny piece of fabric in the folk music continuum to let in the cosmic debris.

Plainly Mistaken comes out Oct. 5 via Paradise of Bachelors.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Listen to the Viking's Choice playlist, subscribe to the newsletter.
More Stories