Nova is the soundtrack to a movie starring Fred Astaire and Lena Horne, directed by Federico Fellini. (Which is a strong contender for the best movie never made.) It’s the kind of record, at least, you make as one of St. Louis’ most respected drummers, featured in Modern Drummer, fresh from releasing a well-received album with soul-punk band The Feed and then lately inspired by a deep & deepening trip through Spain. In other words, it’s intoxicating, it’s invigorating, it’s joyous. Like Kevin Bowers himself, it knows why secrets are whispered. And how to throw a party.
Kevin’s sketch of Spain is the story of two lovers meeting near the Mediterranean Sea. Lyrically, it’s visual, concise, reminiscing. Sonically, it’s expansive, layered, ranging over Latin America and Africa. Brazilian samba, psychedelic rock, solo drum pieces—all find expression in 12 songs attuned to the rhythms of romance and percussive because that’s what love is. The leap forward in songcraft is as much personal as artistic. Nova is not only what a drummer at heart makes but also a genre-hopping composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist. This time out, Bowers focused on arranging material for others to sing (unlike his previous two solo releases, My Love Is Yours and Nine Story Building, where he was the lead vocalist). It was a decision—one he made early on—that guided the tones and textures of the songs themselves: restless, innovative and entirely right for the record. They mean to transport you to a better and exciting place, and they do.