Multi-instrumentalist fireball Philip Bowen is coming in hot with the upcoming release of his debut album, Old Kanawha, on 18 August. His titular first single with Charles Wesley Godwin has caught steam; the slow-burning ballad has already amassed nearly a million streams on all platforms. A duet with Josiah and the Bonnevilles called “Vampire in Appalachia” also just dropped, a rich pedal steel and fiddle performance that speaks well to the region. Bowen’s next single, “Lightning Bugs”, is a grand foil to these other releases, being a breezy love song that’s bound to put a smile on appreciators of fine Americana music’s faces.
The sprightly tune paints gorgeous pictures of Appalachia between musings on a relatable romance; Bowen croons about what sets him and his partner apart—like their taste in different bands—before bringing it back into what unifies them, like chasing fireflies or the strength of their love. It’s a sweet message married to equally sweet melodies, highlighting Bowen’s beautiful fiddling prowess between verses.
Bowen tells PopMatters, “This song has a long history, and I’m so glad to finally get the studio version out into the world! The voice memo that eventually became this song was recorded while pumping gas at a gas station between West Virginia and Michigan.”
“The ‘acoustic’ version I put out a couple of years ago was my first attempt at production. I had no idea what I was doing, and the audio was taken from five full video takes of me doing each part of the song front to back. I spent hours and hours trying to figure out how to mash the audio together in iMovie and finally got something I thought sounded semi-professional. What an amazing full-circle moment to get this full studio version out as part of my debut album. This song has all the good feels and is perfect for summertime.”