CD Review: The Driftwood Singers – The Driftwood Singers (Trailer Fire, 2013)
Twenty-somethings Pearl Charles and Kris Hutson may have grown up in the sunshine of Los Angeles, but their music is rooted in the hollers of Appalachia and the rolling hills of Southern Kentucky. Their harmonies span both high-and-lonesome and Everly’s-styled parallel thirds, and their folk and country is made from autoharp, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, piano and steel. Their vintage look (grandma dresses, suspenders and browline glasses) and the dour depression-era expressions they strike for publicity photos give a visual suggestion of their sympathies, but it’s the haunting ache of their music that sticks to your ribs. Their songs are stained with tears at nearly every turn – unrequited attraction, faded and forbidden love, desertion, natural disaster and even the treachery of demon rock ‘n’ roll; but the sad circumstances aren’t for want of trying. A Gram-and-Emmylou-styled stroll through the memories of “Walking Backwards” can’t salve the problems of today, and the deliverance of “Corn Liquor” ends up resigned to life-after redemption in lieu of mortal recovery. The jugband melody of “Tennessee Honey” provides a moment of uncrushed hope, though it’s anyone’s guess if the protagonist’s hat-in-hand apology will be accepted. In a sense it doesn’t matter, as the Driftwood Singers’ nostalgia-laden music is warm, even when its subjects are cold.