Hearing Aide: Driftwood’s ‘Tree of Shade’

Driftwood is set to release their fifth studio album this coming spring. This folk-rock and Americana-influenced band has grown over the years from a duo to a five-piece group. Band members include Dan Forsyth (guitar/vocals), Joe Kollar (banjo/guitar/vocals), Claire Byrne (violin/vocals), Joey Acuri (bass), and Will Sigel (drums). Each additional instrument and added vocalist serve to create the rounded and wholesome feel of Driftwood’s music.

Reminiscent of the sentiment of their band name, Driftwood continues to evolve with the passage of time. Tree of Shade consists of eleven tracks and represents the group’s sonic evolution as they experiment with slower paced music. Personally, listening to this album puts me back around a campfire on a chilly summer night. The opening track “California” (which also happens to be violin/vocalist Claire Byrne’s favorite track) helps set the tone for the rest of the album as it embodies the previously described ambiance.

Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of this album is the quality and quantity of the vocals. Songs like “Conquering Man” and “Santa Fe” beautifully portray the strength and conviction in Byrne’s voice while “Stick With Me” demonstrates the bright harmonies the group is capable of delivering. “Stick With Me” is another standout track for guitar/vocalist Dan Forsyth as he loves “how simple and timeless it is.” Other noteworthy elements in their music consist of the raw sounds from the guitar and banjo as well as the ever-present violin as heard in the closing few bars of “Tree of Shade,” the title track of the album.

The group created this album in the Catskill Mountains and undoubtedly captured the energy of their surrounding environment. They said it was their first time working with a major producer like Simone Felice and he really encouraged them to keep it simple and stick to whatever captures the song.

When I first heard songs like “Lay Like You Do” and “What You Do to Me,” I couldn’t help but think of other beloved bands who create similar sentiments in their music. Driftwood, like The Zac Brown Band and Mumford and Sons, succeeds in inciting feelings of togetherness through the power of music. Some groups the band cite as their biggest musical influences span across generations including Paul Simon, Dr. Dog, Brandi Carlile, and Bob Dylan. It is evident by this list that they value “great songwriting and music that comes from the heart” as they told me.

“The album is emotional, mature and introspective. In some ways it’s really folky but there are also some tracks that we really took chances on.” The group shared that their goal for the upcoming album is “just to touch people’s hearts” as they “want to connect with [their] audience and share the music and this life.”

Key Tracks: Lay Like You Do, California, What You Do to Me

April 12 &13: Syracuse, NY – Funk N Waffles

April 20: Rockwood Music Hall – New York, NY

May 17: Ransom Steele Tavern – Apalachin, NY 

May 18: Albany, NY – The Hollow

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