2020 Viola Award Finalist for Excellence in Music
New Nostalgia is the fourth full-length independent release from Flagstaff band Tow’rs, released this fall. It follows their self-titled debut, winner of the Emerging Artist Award in 2015, along with The Great Minimum and Grey Fidelity, Viola Finalists in 2016 and 2018, respectively. Husband and wife duo Kyle and Gretta Miller form the core of the band with their heartfelt songwriting, alternating lead vocals and delicate harmonies.
Multi-instrumentalist Kyle Keller and cellist Emma Crislip add rich supporting layers that transcend the over-trodden folk rock genre and help create the unique Tow’rs sound, while drummer Dan Bagley’s understated, subtly-modulated rhythms advance the songs. The last two years of touring together nationally (in an RV with full band and two young children in tow) have honed their performance skills. The same warm layers of live sound saturate a Tow’rs show, but with a dynamic range from soulful wails to introspective whispers that’s impossible to translate in a recording. After finding their mature sound on the tightly cohesive Grey Fidelity, the band explores more eclectic directions within that sound on New Nostalgia.
The opening rocker Water Under the Bridge hits home the thesis of the album: “The songs are a reframing and rebuilding of faith, love, relationships, politics, and self worth. They are the burying of bitterness in the ground and watching a garden come from that death. May we, together, re-experience our past selves, choose love, and never close ourselves off to change.” The folk harmonies of Tightrope Walker follow at the other end of the spectrum. The timely Draw the Line meditates on the impact of culture-war politics on relationships: “You are the symbol, not the darkness itself. Tell me the difference between tolerance and love.” But perhaps the most memorable tracks are those that plumb the fully-realized Tow’rs sound right down the middle with vulnerable lyrics about marriage and parenthood: Worn Out Shoes and Pink Confetti. This record is chock-full of lyrics you can hold in your hands; lyrics that waft of freshly dug earth and split juniper.
Kyle and Gretta knew they needed to push themselves professionally, and bet the proverbial farm to record and promote Grey Fidelity. To create New Nostalgia, they relied on the support of fans through Kickstarter, raising over $19,000, mostly through small donations. They literally built a recording studio for the purpose of making the album, completely remodeling an old outbuilding in their backyard with saw and hammer in hand. That studio has since become Lore Audio Provisions, where Kyle uses his experience to record and mentor other musicians. The first clients have included Flagstaff artists Quinn Scully, Sierra Bryan, and Catie Spade.
LISTEN to ‘New Nostalgia’ on Spotify here.