The Farewell Drifters: Tomorrow Forever

FarewellDrifters_TomorrowForeverSuperb melding of acoustic roots, folk-rock and pop

Nashville’s Farewell Drifters are often likened to the Avett Brothers, Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Sons, and though there’s merit in these comparisons, lead vocalist Zach Bevill’s earnest tone often has more in common with the uplift of Tim DeLaughter’s Polyphonic Spree than acoustic roots acts. The group’s anthemic unison singing, and the addition of drums and electric guitar, bring to mind the Spree’s larger productions, and the Farewell Drifters’ citation of Brian Wilson as a primary influence is heard in touches of 1960s harmony, such as the opening chorale of “Starting Over,” and the instrumental production.

The opening “Modern Age” spins up from its plaintive start to a rousing mid-tempo awakening, with group vocals and an orchestral chime for extra lift. The acoustic strums of “Bring ’em Back Around” similarly build into a full-on rock song (with nostalgic lyrics that press many the same emotional buttons as Jonathan Richman’s “That Summer Feeling“), and “Motions” turns from spare piano into a drum-and-strings crescendo, transforming the lyric’s pessimistic premise into an optimistic expectation. The productions aren’t as grandiose as Art Decade‘s orchestral rock, but they draw inspiration from the same pop-rock well.

The group’s harmony singing and Americana roots show in the Band-like “Brother,” as well as the martial drum and banjo of “Tomorrow Forever.” The album’s forward motion – both musical and lyrical – is often stoked by backward glances. The chime added to the shuffling drum of “Tennessee Girl” adds a modern sound to a classic rhythm, just as the protagonist’s advance is connected to his past. There are threads of disappointment and hope throughout the album, suggesting that growth comes more often from studied failure than a safe lack of trying. It’s an empowering message, and one the Drifters communicate winningly in both words and music. [©2014 Hyperbolium]

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