Driftwood “A Rock & Roll Heart”
Released on May, 2012 this release is long overdue for a review, so let’s buckle up & get down to it.
Driftwood glides out with “I’ve Got a Secret”, with lone guitar patting out rhythm, then the band emerges from speakers giving way to stark vocal riffing out lyrical passages that are beautifully augmented by bass, violin and the banjo that are accompanied by harmonies and a well balanced mix of instrumentation. The first thought after the first listen twice to this first cut is; Who are these guys?
“A Rock & Roll Heart”, the second tune wonderfully unfolds with a nice loping intro that leads to a tender vocal embellished with sections of banjo, strings and backing vocals designed to draw the ear in and set the toe tapping & head thinking. Due to the cover art it would be easy to contrast between this and the monster that is roaming the US and world, Mumford & Son’s, but Driftwood music is Americana, not a representative reproduction of the art form. In short, Driftwood has its own identity and plays the game much better in this writer’s esteem.
Driftwood is out of New York and it’s influenced by a time in Americana music that saw The Band & Dylan take the helm and steer a course away from “country rock” to American music in a electric based sound, yet retaining the identity. There are some great chops going on with this music also.
Driftwood is Claire Byrne on violin & vocals, Jon Doll on doghouse, or upright bass, with Dan Forsyth on guitar & vocals. Joe Kollar took on a huge chunk of this project as he is featured on banjo, drums, organ, guitar & vocals. The work was recorded at Three Egg Studios in Brooklyn, NY and produced by the artists and Bryan Kane.
Claire Byrne’s fills on the violin alone are worth a listen, she has it nailed. The rest of the players never get in the way of the vocalist and add drama to the lyric, which is the gig in a well produced product.
“The Working Mom’s Anthem” is very original in lyrical form and the vocal is so raw in the mix that the lyric leaps out. There’s a great edge to this tune that any mom would recognize and empathize with. I’m an old dude so the tune sort of takes me back to a Stone’s tune, but the production is way beyond that trifle. This is one of the best tunes for me on the recording.
“Love Is” & “Confidence Is” remain in the vein they have honed, but both weave great tales, which a good lyric should attempt to do. There is a theatrical vibe in their production that probably serves this group well in live performance. Dynamics abound and again are emphasized in the production.
“Have Van Will Travel” the tenth and final cut on the project is another gem. What Driftwood does is play solidly with tight vocals and good to great story telling.
This is very good listening material, end of story. A great listen from an American band.
[Christopher Brant Anderson]