Lars Gotrich

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.

You're at a party and see your old boo (with a new boo), who is looking very fine. When you go in for the obligatory hug, it brings up aaaalllll of the feels — that weekend at the cabin, the six-week anniversary dinner that was totally unnecessary but still very sweet, that one shirt you like.

The eternally smiling D.R.A.M. knows that feeling, and the smoove synth-bop "Best Hugs" lays it all out: "Reminiscing about those days take me / Back to the days when she drove me crazy."

There's a dancing bear slapped on the back of a station wagon cranking out a copy of Europe '72 — it's no deep dive from one of Dick's Picks, but it's a solid collection of live sets, with Grateful Dead at the top of its game. You exchange eyes with the driver, acknowledge the good-times jams, and counter with a '77 date. Soon enough, you're holding up traffic, but the songs keep on truckin'.

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