The Farewell Drifters: Tomorrow Forever

While they are still extremely technical and carefully arranged, it’s nice to see the Farewell Drifters let go a little bit, pushing themselves in a few different directions.

The Farewell Drifters

Tomorrow Forever

US Release: 2014-01-28
Label: Compass

The Farewell Drifters have always been a meticulous band. Calculated and polished -- with Zack Bevill’s vocals landing somewhere between Benjamin Gibbard and Brian Wilson, while the rest of the band carries enough heavy-handed bluegrass sensibilities to add a lush, structured charisma -- the Nashville folkies have more in common with harmony-fueled sunshine pop of the '60s than the lo-fi dreaminess coming from the indie scene. But, with everything so carefully aligned, what they’ve lacked is edge. Intelligently, they let loose a little bit on Tomorrow Forever the follow-up to 2011’s well-received Echo Boom.

While the Farewell Drifters scatter moments of raw energy onto their fourth studio album, it never sounds contrived. The additions are subtle: unfiltered vocal sincerity, choruses that have drive without being dumbed down by overly anthemic lameness, and gutsy musicianship that’s as mature as it is whimsical. Their signature nostalgia is still there, but their perspectives seem more clear. It’s less wordy, but, on Tomorrow Forever, they find themselves saying a lot more.

“Our life is more than photos in boxes / I don’t want to be your lonely companion,” Bevill sings on the opening “Modern Age”, a catchy jangle-pop realization that looking forward is better than looking back. But then Tomorrow Forever becomes a wave of memories: the electric guitar driven “Bring ‘Em Back Around” longs for the good old days “when the world felt so right”, while the soft, melancholy “Brother” remembers the ups and downs of having a sibling.

It’s the foot-stomping title track that breathes new life into the album at the halfway point. With old-world picking, drums that have the backbone of a '70s rock band and harmonies that sounds entirely modern, “Tomorrow Forever” is a hard-driven, genre-bending anomaly, giving the kind of gritty punch that makes this album breathe a little more than their past work.

After slowing back down with the bleeding-heart piano ballad “Motions” and the shimmering, hooky “Tennessee Girl”, things gain steam again with “Neighborhoods Apart”, an evocative narrative that builds and falls. “Our time is like a broken window, always trying to glue it back / Piece by piece it holds together, while our youth slips through the cracks,” Bevill sings in the song’s chorus, which is the top tier of the layered and vivid, Arcade Fire-ish tale.

Tomorrow Forever finishes by bringing everything full circle with “Starting Over”, a track that, after an album of remembering and dwelling on the past, begs for a clean slate, just as the first song did, making for a cleverly arranged record. It’s candid and self-deprecating: “I feel like starting over, but I can’t see it ’til the end / I feel like starting over, but I can’t do it with my friends / Because they know me / And I’m jealous / And I’m crazy / Because they know me / And I’m a liar / And I’m lazy.”

The Farewell Drifters have an interesting dynamic: they can dig into the roots of Americana, bank on a strong songwriter, add rock riffs or dive into pop. Tomorrow Forever finds them utilizing all those weapons strategically. And, while they will probably always be technical and carefully organized, it’s nice to see them let go a little bit, pushing themselves in a few different directions.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.