By Brian Tucker
Three months ago folk/blues duo Driskill released Country Blues on Attic Space Records, a fine debut of colorful yet often strikingly spare numbers. It’s a great album, put together by two musicians in less than year’s time.
They’ll perform as a full band Friday night at Bourgie Nights in downtown Wilmington with fellow acts Subliminal Confession, and Curtis Stith.
The album’s title of nearly belies the content. It’s much more, a selection of warm, sincere material sung by Ethan Driskill and JD Williamson, two very different vocalists that compliment one another.
While much of the album bears rural, sunny afternoon atmosphere, it’s underscored by the electricity of rock music and the ambiance of haunting film scores. Beginning with an overture of sorts “Rehearsing Summer Haze” it’s followed by radio-ready “Mistakes & Blame.”
The song fades in using metallic, faint guitar echoes continuing forward with somber banjo playing. It’s a strong way to begin an album, as the song changes up again, with ambiance built on blistering yet restrained guitar. Driskill has a golden voice on it, he sounds strong but broken.
Williamson takes lead vocals on “Between the Lines,” a singer with more sass and higher, soulful vocals. Throughout the album Williamson shows his range song to song and the combination of two singers is interesting, if not smart. With Williamson and Driskill you get two sides of Americana, two voices with one vision of engaging, folky material. Williamson burns bright on “D.D.T.M.” a haunted, up-tempo song that seems to be constantly coming down.
The song, along with “Worn” (another radio-ready single), “Port City” and the hefty “One Day” for its striking and reserved guitar work, highlight the album. The duo continues to show strength on the banjo heavy, Sunday stroll of “Good Times” and the melody-rich “Take What You Need.”
The album is a mix of tender and sweet, the two best illustrated on the shiny “Without You.” Still, it’s a great debut of material rich in dark and embattled emotions, never overstaying its welcome, even with fourteen songs.