Americana quartet Driftwood is a long-time regional favorite among folk music lovers. Yet with the release of its fourth studio recording, "City Lights," the Binghamton-based band delivers a full-fledged pop record chock-full of radio-friendly melodic hooks and head-bobbing rhythms — while still delivering substantive songs brimming with outdoorsy energy, barn-burning fiddle riffs, and a bit of bluegrass jangle.
Guitarist Dan Forsyth, violinist Claire Byrne, Joe Kollar on the banjo, and upright bassist Joey Arcuri delight with sonic stunner after stunner. For fans of the Americana and folk genres, the sound will be familiar: the title track plays like The Lumineers — but more skilled — the phenomenal "Gasoline" is the song Ryan Adams never wrote; and "Lemonade" and "Maria Constantina" come off as authentic Driftwood, but the songs would be right at home in a Dave Rawlings Machine set list.
That said, the songs in which Byrne takes front-and-center are the true standouts in an already stellar collection. Her soulful voice — charming and warm with a tinge of rustic raspiness — is nothing short of electrifying, even when heard secondhand on a recording (wait for that vocal slide on "Talkin'").