farewell-driftersYELLOW TAG MONDAYS
The Farewell Drifters
Heart Squeeze Records

Reminiscent of a mellower Giving Tree Band, the fine young roots outfit from up near Chicago, the Nashville-based Farewell Drifters have picked up high-profile endorsements from Peter Rowan and Jim Lauderdale, and after a few years of honing their sound live the quintet is making its national debut with Yellow Tag Mondays, an impressive sophomore album that positions the group firmly in the line of Nickel Creek and W.P.A.—largely acoustic, roots-oriented aggregates whose original material betrays multiple and varied influences in the realms of ‘60s rock ‘n’ roll. contemporary indie rock and country-rock, as well pop-influenced bluegrass a la Alison Krauss + Union Station. Group founders Joshua Britt and Zach Beville speak in the band’s bio of growing up in households where the sounds of the Beatles, Beach Boys and early ‘70s California country predominated (and in the case of Britt and his brother Clayton, southern gospel, as purveyed by four generations of their mother’s family). Those influences ring loud and clear in the smooth, close harmonies of ebullient bluegrass-fired workouts such as “Virginia Bell,” which also happens to be splendid, attention-grabbing showcase of adroit, fleet fiddling by Christian Sedelmyer, who makes a favorable impression every time he appears on a track, especially when he teams with surrogate Drifter Trevor Brandt (and lead guitarist Clayton Britt, presumably) for a most jubilant dialogue on a beauty of a hard driving instrumental, “I’ve Got Your Heart In My Hand and I’m Gonna Squeeze.”

As Merlfest 09, the Farewell Drifters, with members of Cadillac Sky and Bearfoot sitting in, perform the Beatles’ ‘For No One,’ a masterful interpretation repeated on the Drifters’ debut album, Yellow Tag Mondays

As the main voice of the Farewell Drifters, Zach Bevill brings a high, clear tenor to bear on the proceedings, thus accounting in large part for the group’s pop sound; when the music behind him is as folksy and tender as it is on the lovely “Please Dream of Me Tonight,” those of a certain generation might mistake the Farewell Drifters for a rural version of The Fleetwoods, or early Poco in the serene, mellow harmonies of “All We Need,” a lyrical treatise on the abiding hope for love’s blossoming. Though these young musicians are only beginning to tap their potential as writers, their musicianship is already at a high level. Which is not simply a nice way of saying their songs suck but they play great. Quite the contrary—the original material (most of it penned by Joshua Britt and Zach Beville, separately, together and in tandem with other group members), is strong lyrically in its focus on relationships, friendship, hopes and dreams, and in “Wake Up,” bold enough to assert an idealistic call to social activism in hard times as a matter of conscience. The band also makes a strong impression in paying homage to one of its influences, the Beatles, no less, with a touching, country-inflected rendition of “For No One,” from the Revolver album, to which they add an affecting, crying fiddle line, rustic mandolin, discreet banjo, a measured, thoughtful lead vocal by Zach and bracing harmonies on the choruses in what is an altogether masterful interpretation. Sometimes Zach seems as if he could dig a little deeper for emotional involvement in a song; it’s not as if any of his readings really fall flat, but sometimes his earnestness would benefit from a little more fire, as would be the case in “Fight to Find Your Way,” when the urgency the music portends and the title demands isn’t matched with intense vocal conviction. A minor quibble, this, in what is a laudable effort by a group capable of great things as it grows and indeed fights to find its way to the upper tier of contemporary roots music, as would seem to be its destiny in time. –David McGee

The Farewell Drifters’ Yellow Tag Mondays is available at

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (
Website Design: Kieran McGee (
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY;, Alicia Zappier (New York)
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024