Last weekend, I was part of a race from Flagstaff, AZ to the Grand Canyon. It was a great day full of friends, trail running, food, and driving. This year, I had a friend who was running the entire 100 miles. In the morning, I was part of a 55K relay team; and in the evening I joined up with a group of guys to help pace my friend as he finished the second half of his run.
After finishing the relay, we went out to a campsite to enjoy the rest of the day and relax. At dusk, it was time for me to head out to meet up with the team of pacers. I departed our campsite and drove north to the Grand Canyon. When I find myself driving alone, I see it as an opportunity to listen and learn. Sometimes I will put on a podcast or audiobook, but when it comes to driving out through open land, there is still nothing that tops a good album.
The band Tow’rs had just released their new album New Nostalgia, and I had been listening to it for a few days, but it had been sporadic listening, or background music as I was working on other things or hanging out with others. If there were ever a time to give it a full listen, that time was now.
The phrase “open road” is more of an ideal for me, rather than an experience; though the experience is what makes it amazing. I envision cruising down the road instead of driving down the road. The open road does something inside of me, similar to feeling I get when I am trail running. My mind begins to wander, ideas begin to develop, and my heart begins to speak. The open road is a journey rather than a means to an end. I had a destination, and I also had a timeframe; but there were no shortcuts, and there was no reason to stress about the time if I left on time. So I left the campsite just before dusk, and my listening journey began.
This stretch of highway between Flagstaff and The Grand Canyon is beautiful. It’s a wide expanse of open and undeveloped land; with hills, fields, and free range cattle, it captured the essence of the open road for me. The sky opens up with each passing mile, and the setting sun had set the sky ablaze with an array of changing colors that changed with each passing minute.
The beauty of the drive was matched by the beauty of the music. To truly do the album justice, I wold have to say that the drive was not only matched, but enhanced by New Nostalgia. From the release of their first self titled album, you knew they were going to be something special, and dedication and commitment to the belief that they are creating music that needs to be created has brought them to where they are today.
All four of their albums are tied together by common themes of love, faith, loss, development, hope, and social justice. Lyrically, you are invited into their lives, and by listening, we catch a glimpse of their heart. The lyrics are poetic and thoughtful, and are enhanced by the transcendent tones and melodies of these amazing vocalists. The instrumentation is simple, yet layered; and with each album, you can hear the development of their musical understanding and ability.
Though all of that paints a picture of what to expect when listening to Tow’rs, this new album has taken all of that to the next level without sacrificing any of the fundamentals that make them who they are.
By the time the final notes of the keys had played on the last song Pink Confetti, I felt changed. Not only had I journeyed to a destination, but my heart and mind had taken a journey. You cannot leave this album without the angst to wanting to be an intentional person, and without the angst of longing to love others deeply. In summary, I recommend two things: One, take a drive out on the open road. Two, listen to New Nostalgia and allow the songs to move you.
Beauty is out there, we just need to put ourselves in those spaces to encounter it.