The influence of The Band goes around the world. Here in Liverpool, it’s as strong as it has ever been with boys, beards and the blues all continuing to dominate the acoustic guitar-driven landscape. All those labels don’t matter, however, when the songs and singing are this good. By Denis Parkinson.
Names have power. Superstition reinforces the idea that to know someone’s true name can be valuable, as names can show us the real nature of things. Nowhere is this as true as in music – what we call our music helps to define it.
Acadian Driftwood, a three piece band based in Liverpool, clearly know this well. ‘Acadian Driftwood’ is the name of a song from American legends The Band that deals with the struggle between the English and French over Acadia and Nova Scotia, in particular the forced expulsion of the Acadian people. It’s maybe not The Band’s best known song, but arguably one of their best. Naming a band after such a song is a statement of intent and tells us where the group have come from… after all, influences shape music and they rarely come with more credibility.
Formed last year, Acadian Driftwood seek to make roots music for the digital age. Bobby Johnson, Adam Lewis and John Ellwand have come together to write songs, play music and entertain. Their debut EP, ‘Working Title’, offers four songs of atmospheric roots rock that could have arrived untouched from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in the seventies. Yes, there is nostalgia here, but it comes with that all-important original spin. Music should evolve and these songs are a step on an ongoing journey… familiar, yet new.
Festival appearances within the UK have supported this first release and the band are developing a following all down the line. Their music blends rock, country and blues into a distinctly American sound, but it’s the quieter moments that showcase their delicate musicianship, establishing a variety of approach. The band can switch from noisy to quiet seamlessly, too, with catchy melodies and distinctive vocals intact.
‘Rain Falling In’, featured below, is another forward step and a lovely song with a relaxed swing. Lyrically, the tune paints with broad strokes and this is an atmospheric piece. The singles’ B-side, remember them?, ‘Mother’s House’, is also worth your time and equally as engaging and expertly delivered. This latest release is less obviously rock focused and just another indication of evolution, with modern influences emerging.
Acadian Driftwood are a new band in an established musical tradition who are developing well and showing true potential. The songwriting is strong, the playing organic and they also have a great name! Of course, we know that means nothing without good music.
Luckily, they deliver on both counts.
Pic by John Johnson