The Farewell Drifters – Echo Boom

As Kyle wrote yesterday, today is a big day for music releases. One of those is the album Echo Boom by the Farewell Drifters from Nashville, TN. I dig it and think you should definitely consider getting your hands on this one if you're looking for some good music from some talented guys.

For all of our Erie readers, an exciting thing about the Farewell Drifters is that one of their members – Christian Sedelmyer – is from here. I happen to be friends with Christian, but I really believe I'd enjoy Echo Boom as much if I didn't know anyone in it. It's admittedly cool to support a friend, but it's just a great album regardless. Anyways, the group is composed of five members who all contribute vocals and play a stringed instrument (guitar, banjo, violin, viola, mandolin, and upright bass). This is their third album and it finds the band making an accomplished musical statement that only gets better with each listen. That's one of my favorite things about it: I want to keep coming back and I happen to get rewarded each time with something new.

I attribute that replayability to the beautiful way the instruments and voices come together. It feels so seamless, it's like a tapestry. Multiple threads get woven together into a larger cohesive whole. You can sit back and admire it or you can take the time to trace a core element. For instance, on a song like "We Go Together," one time I might notice the bass and the next, I might focus on the mandolin. Maybe even one time I'll just listen to the clapping! Sometimes it's conscious, sometime's it's not, but it's always compelling.

The album starts off strong with "Punchline." I like the lyrics a lot; the concept of trying to make sense of the world and one's place in it is always interesting and relatable to me. The album's packaging explains the concept of Echo Boom, which is a phrase that defines those of a generation born in the 1980s and 1990s, who are generally the children of Baby Boomers. A generation whose members are entering adulthood, and here the band taps into a universal sentiment for that phase. It is a big change and can bring doubt, but we all hope to and strive to "deliver". I think the music is great too, its energy really pulls a listener in and makes the band's multi-textured approach immediately clear to the ear. And there's even an Oasis reference.

The Echo Boom concept actually is intended to describe the music of the album as well. Inside the album, the band notes "Inspired by our parents' music, we are creating our own." I think that is pretty cool and I also think the band has succeeded in this attempt. It is very easy to envision all of the historic music of a previous generation that may have inspired various moments of songs (like the Beach Boys or CSNY), but it is also easy to imagine the Farewell Drifters sharing a stage with a current band like the Fleet Foxes, who are similarly inspired by older music to make new music. The second track, "Tip of the Iceberg" makes me first think of "Ooh La La" by the Faces but quickly mutates into a driving number reminiscent of the Avett Brothers.

If you are still looking for ways to describe the music, I would call it a fusion of elements of bluegrass, folk, and rock, past and present (and I'm sure there's more to it than that). Harmonies are very prevalent and done very well. The band is equally adept at rousing uptempo numbers as they are slowing things down. The lyrics explore things like relationships and growth. The highlights on the album are numerous, but I can't go without commenting on the last track, "Common Ties." The vocals and music are great, and they convey a profound exploration of life. I just love the line "There's wrong and right, but the common ties that bind are stronger than the lines we draw," and the beautiful imagery of how things fit together (especially the line of how a baby's first breath can come from someone else's last). Fittingly, this song uses two voices but they often fuse together, aided by the rich harmonies.

The liner notes say that the band recorded together in one room, which gives this recording an evident vitality. I also should comment that besides the useful and interesting notes on how the album was made and a bit about what it means, it has some nice aesthetics too, with the band members in Member's Only jackets that correspond to a unique color. A good visual metaphor for the music: distinct but cohesive, with a lot of style. So go get this album already! You can buy it here on the band's website (and some other cool stuff), or on Amazon, or Itunes.

The Farewell drifters have a lot of tour dates planned this summer, they are listed here. For readers in the region, they play June 11 in Buffalo, June 25 in Pittsburgh, and a return to Erie is scheduled for June 26. Once again, I encourage you to get this album and I'd love to know what you think of it. I leave you with the video for "We Go Together." Enjoy!