artist: The Driftwood Manor
release: A Gathering
year of release: 2008
detailed info: discogs.com
The Driftwood Manor is a new band based in Ballymahon, Ireland that plays a kind of acoustic alternative rock, but with a strong dose of folk thrown in, both free and traditional. Little surprise if you look at the lineup, which apart from main songwriter and vocalist Eddie Keenan includes David Colohan (Agitated Radio Pilot, United Bible Studies, etc.) and Bean Dolan (Resurrection Fern), but also traditional fiddler Neil Fitzgibbon, among others. This short debut album is self-released on pro CDr, and actually of a very high quality.
The album starts off with an instrumental, which has a very dronish buildup and melancholic tinge. This shifts, however, to the second one - “To The Waves” - which is uptempo and combines a longing neofolk track (in the broad sense) with some traditional fiddling. There is much variety, though, as the three middle tracks illustrate. “Pyre” is a calm alternative folk ballad with female second vocals and tracks 5 and 6 show a relaxed, though still melancholic, singer/songwriter style. The final tracks contain a similar mixture of styles, from the uptempo “The Sense Of An Ending” - with more female vocals and also a trumpet - to the serenity of “Trial By Fire”. The sound is also quite enjoyable: very crisp, yet organic and idiosyncratic, particularly the drums and fiddle.
While I wouldn’t say this is a very innovative album, I’ve been playing it very often lately, as there is simply a lot of good songwriting in here. Another piece of evidence that Ireland is a nation of true artistry in the realm of popular music. This is a highly recommended and promising debut for any lover of alternative folk.
Reviewed by O.S.
1. From Here The Town Looks Like Nearby Stars (4:00)
2. To The Waves (3:22)
3. The Pull (2:09)
4. Pyre (4:15)
5. Thank You, Dear Aggressor (3:16)
6. I Will Wait For You (4:17)
7. The Sense Of An Ending (2:43)
8. Trial By Fire (2:57)
9. Voices In The Corridor (2:59)