Low-voltage, traditional instruments and a very rootsy feel would be a good quick primer when trying to describe the sound of Binghampton, New York’s Driftwood, who are about to unleash their fifth album (fourth studio release), City Lights. Their sound, it has to be said, is not something you’d equate with northern New York, but really, it’s irrelevant. The music on this new album is a healthy mix of traditional folk, country/bluegrass, some Celtic undertones and shades of pop. All in all, a very sweet combination. And you have to hand it to a band that doesn’t have a drummer – guitar, banjo, standup bass and violin is their presentation, although on record, the drumming is very “musical”, as it fits the tenor of the songs perfectly.
The title track is that melding of all the influences, with a good-natured, wry lyric and instant radio-friendliness; “Fishbowl” is a down home barn dancer, filled with fiddle runs and subtle but very effective background vocals and harmonies; “Talkin'” is a joyful piece sung by violinist Claire Byrne, catchy and lively and “Lemonade” is a wild ride tribute to (of all things)… lemonade, going from the traditional folk picking on acoustic guitar and then exploding on the choruses and kicking hard and fast in the middle. “Too Afraid” has a classical air about it, with its arrangement, which builds into a much more complex track and “Lost Cause”, also sung by Ms. Byrne (guitarist Joe Kollar sings most lead vocals), delivers the high point of the album – her vocals, along with the completeness of this song makes it stand out like a jewel – pop-ish, countrified and with a little bit of soul, this could, indeed, be a radio hit.
An excellent gathering of ten songs from a well-oiled machine. Certainly, if you’ve never heard this band before, this is a perfect place to start. It’s easy to embrace Driftwood by sounds like these.
City Lights will be released on Friday, November 3rd, 2016