Music preview: Farewell Drifters are right where they want to be

CorrespondentJanuary 16, 2014 

The Farewell Drifters will release a new album, “Tomorrow Forever,’ on Jan. 28.

COURTESY OF WILL MORGAN HOLLAND

  • Details

    Who: The Farewell Drifters

    When: 9 p.m. Saturday

    Where: Local 506, 506 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill

    Cost: $8-$9

    Info: 919-942-5506

The Farewell Drifters certainly look like a bluegrass band. The primarily acoustic quartet utilizes a mandolin, a fiddle, a guitar and an upright bass. And the Nashville-based act plays bluegrass festivals and draws fans from that genre.

However, the band, which will perform Saturday at Local 506 in Chapel Hill, is more than a bluegrass outfit. That familiar sound is in the mix, but the group also employs deep, rich harmonies and has an obvious affinity for folk and roots-rock.

“Our sound is a combination of different kinds of music,” vocalist Zach Bevill says while calling from his Music City home. “That comes from the fact that we play what we want to play. We like bluegrass but we like a lot of different kinds of music. We don’t care to be defined by a genre. But I don’t think we can be defined by a genre anyway. We like what we do. We’re comfortable with the instruments we play. We just do what we want to do. It’s that simple.”

The Farewell Drifters do prefer strumming to picking, and their pretty harmonies owe more to classic pop than country.

“There’s something to be said about having that vocal blend,” Bevill says. “It’s something that has always worked for us. You just don’t hear it that much anymore and that’s a shame.”

Count on hearing more of their haunting harmonies and sweet melodies (which are reminiscent of the Fleet Foxes’ handiwork) on ‘Tomorrow Forever,’ which will drop January 28.

“This album sounds bigger than any of our other discs,” Bevill said. “The writing is more emotional. We’ve taken the next step with this project.”

Producer Neilson Hubbard helped the band expand its sonic universe. The group added drums and some electric guitar to its amalgam of sounds.

“We decided to take some chances and just go for it with this album,” Bevill says. “We started coming up with new ideas and we decided to implement these ideas into the mix. I think it’s going to make our shows that much better.”

At Saturday’s Chapel Hill show, expect the group, which also includes Josh Britt on mandolin, his brother Clayton Britt on guitar and drummer Dean Marold, to also deliver plenty of material from the 2010 debut ‘Yellow Tag Mondays’ and 2011’s ‘Echo Boom’ – both of which debuted at number 6 on the Billboard’s bluegrass album charts.

“We enjoy revisiting the older material,” Bevill says. “I think it’s a nice complement to the new stuff. I’m feeling good about where we are. We’re right where we want to be.”

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