For Maryland-born duo Cotton Jones, it’s all about the atmosphere. On the band’s soon-to-be-released sophomore effort, Tall Hours in the Glowstream, the pair attempts—and succeeds—at making an album with a time, place, and purpose to it. Named for a stream that runs between North and South Cumberland, Maryland, the record ripples and flows with warm organ tones, understated percussion parts, and shared guy/girl vocals that gently lap at the senses. With Page France frontman Michael Nau and co-conspirator Whitney McGraw at the helm, the Cotton Jones project allows for a multitude of friends and music makers to contribute parts, which is ultimately a big part of Glowstream’s charm. Where songs like “No Things I Need (Like Some Time Ago)” and “More Songs for Margaret” are stark, guitar- and tambourine-driven slow burners, fully orchestrated tracks, like the building “Somehow to Keep It Going,” feel like a true community effort. (Think backwoods porch jams and rollin’ river lyrics.)
What is perhaps most endearing about Cotton Jones’s folksy compositions, however, are the environments they create. Case in point is the aptly titled “Man Climbs Out of the Winter,” which rests on a sleepy mix of brushed drums, vibraphone, and lap steel, and feels like a hot summer night. Like fellow organ-loving indie rockers Beach House, the Cotton Jones duo seems more concerned with creating inviting soundscapes than with penning catchy hooks, and the result makes for an album’s worth of tunes that create something bigger and warmer than the sum of its parts.
“We spent a lot of time on the bank of that stream—alone, together, gathered like a flock of birds, examining the next move,” says Nau of the album. “Many of the tunes on this record feel like Cumberland to me. When I’m there, it’s like a dream—all familiar sound and light, where the factories and birds sing the same song.” And lucky for us, they’re bringing a little piece of that dream to our coast right soon. Cotton Jones plays an all-ages show this Monday, August 16, at 8 p.m. at Muddy Waters Café (508 E. Haley St.). Call 966-9328 or visit clubmercy.com for tickets.