Nathan Evans Fox Debuts New Single, “Some Things Are Coming Back Again”
Surrounded by hymn books, country, bluegrass, folk and his family’s land in Glen Alpine, North Carolina, the musical journey for Nathan Evans Fox began at age four when he started playing violin. Adding guitar, piano and other instruments, Fox has also become an accomplished songwriter about to release his fourth album. Writing during a time of so much loss and uncertainty resulted in songs the artist hopes will be welcomed as a bit of a respite for listeners. Trained as a hospital chaplain, Fox knows grief, but after suffering his own personal loss, moving to Nashville only to have his home hit by the March 2020 tornado and then the lockdown… it was a lot for anyone to handle. He’s been releasing singles leading up to the album release; we talked about a couple of them and what’s on the horizon for Nathan Evans Fox.
AnaLee: Music has been part of your life for I’m guessing about as long as you can remember. Picking up the violin at age four, now piano, guitar and other instruments. How did you end up being trained as a hospital chaplain while all that music was going on around you?
Nathan: It’s strange. I’d always flirted with doing more with my music, but for the longest time it felt too self-indulgent to think somebody needs to hear what I worked up in my bedroom. (I’m still hoping I’m wrong on that front.) The work and training that went into hospital chaplaincy needed to take priority for a while because I personally needed to ask the questions and do the work that hospital chaplaincy forced. I’m very grateful I did it, and I’m fortunate and honored to have done some helpful work during some very sensitive times in people’s lives. I still love hospital chaplaincy, but the last few years, music has been pushing itself more and more to the fore.
AnaLee: Has that training helped you during this time of grief and confusion for the world? Has it surfaced in your songwriting?
Nathan: All the work and training as a hospital chaplain never really goes away, and, at this point, it’s just become a part of the way I take in everyday life. I can’t help but notice all the ways grief and loss are baked into everything. At the beginning of the pandemic, I did a bit of chaplaincy work. What has stayed with me most from that experience is a deep sense of anger at all the ways folks with and without power have downplayed the trauma of the pandemic. Lots of folks are grieving from a common, collective loss, and their room to grieve is being eaten away by folks who just don’t get it. For me, it’s hard to separate personal losses from the world we share with others, and I think that comes through in these songs. Life is already hard enough and sometimes we make it harder for each other and sometimes we don’t. When I write joyful songs, I can’t help but try to incorporate the work behind the joy. And when I write songs about grief (which, good Lord, I do too much of) I try to show the world surrounding and tangled up in the loss.
AnaLee: Wasted Love is due to be released October 8th and it’s your fourth album. Tell us a little about writing and recording this album.
Nathan: For the new record, I decided to lean all-the-way in to my chaotic hillbilly self and tried to make something that sounds like the mish-mash of country, folk, pop, soul - all of it that I love. It threads the needle of what country music sounds like for me: it’s not trapped in amber, not nostalgic, not scared of pop, feels no guilt in guilty pleasures, but still has an accent and a perspective and plenty of twang. The title track and much of the record is about my late grandmother who was the truest kind of western North Carolina working woman. As far back as I can remember, she always wanted me to “play a fast song.” So, I wrote her a whole record of fast songs that (I hope) are as country as she was and love the world as much as she did.
AnaLee: “Some Things are Coming Back Again” is the next single you’re releasing Friday, September 17th. It feels like things were coming back but now that’s changed and we’re back to taking extra precautions when it comes to doing anything outside of our homes. Has this song taken on new meaning since you wrote it?
Nathan: I wrote that song in January 2020 after my grandmother’s funeral. It’s the kind of song that doesn’t really stretch out into a clean line, but instead takes a snapshot of where I was at the time. One the one hand, I was trying to document the many beautiful, coincidental patterns I was noticing among my friends and family (as well as NASCAR legends and teenage favorite hardcore bands). At the same time, I was missing my grandmother who shared a special connection with me. She was a “taproot” for me, a nerve that went out into the world showing me where to find feeling and nourishment. I was realizing that it was now my own responsibility to find and make the light she gave. It’s funny how this song has taken on a new meaning in the pandemic, and it’s a real gift that it is able to keep making connections in new contexts. Most of us have experienced some kind of loss the last two years. I wasn’t expecting the idea of “things coming back again and the rest of them being gone” to hit so close to home to so many folks, but I’m glad it’s finding a second life. I hope this song can still do some good work.
AnaLee: “Carolina Boy” has also been released, a song that has a bit of nostalgia but a sense of moving forward too. Would you tell us a little about this one?
Nathan: I’m not saying I’m very specifically clairvoyant, but I normally can sense when someone I just met is from North Carolina. We have a vibe. I’ve lived in lots of different cities since I left North Carolina when I was 21, and everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve immediately connected to the North Carolinians I’ve met. We’re like the world’s most normal, college basketball-loving expat community. So, the idea of a “lost Carolina Boy” is nothing new. We all have our reasons for leaving, and “Carolina Boy” enumerates mine.
AnaLee: It seems like we’re back to the uncertainty we were feeling this time last year. Are you trying to plan a tour or any dates around town to celebrate the album release?
Nathan: Woof. Yea. This is tough. Fortunately, I am playing shows, though things are fluid given all the current messiness of the pandemic. I will be bopping around Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Carolinas this weekend, will have a short run in Texas in late October, and will be having album release shows in Athens and Atlanta in November. However, the big shebang to celebrate the new record will be October 8 at the 5 Spot! I plan on being appropriately and safely rowdy.
“Somethings Are Coming Back”