Drift Mouth “Little Patch of Sky” (Wild Frontier, 2018)

Drift Mouth’s singer/songwriter/ guitarist Lou Poster’s father was a West Virginia coal miner for 37 years.  When he retired around 2006, Poster presented him with a recording of covers and originals that celebrated a career that not many can do, and even fewer can excel and retire from.  On the strength of that project, after years of playing in cowpunk band Grafton, Poster, along with drummer Brad Swiniarski formed Drift Mouth and set about stripping their music down to its West Virginia/Ohio roots.

With their Wild Frontier full length debut, ‘Little Patch of Sky,’ Drift Mouth burst out of the gate with the full-tilt rock and roll of ‘Wake You Up.’  Poster’s vocals meet somewhere between the matter-of-fact delivery of James McMurtry, the Bottle Rockets’ Brian Henneman and Drive-By Truckers’ Mike Cooley, yet as proven during the chorus of the ferocious ‘Angelene,’ he has a strong upper range, which makes you wish he’d use it more throughout the album.  However, like the others mentioned, the authority of his delivery and his strong songwriting makes up for whatever vocal limitations are displayed.

Drift Mouth hits the sweet spot between the guitar crunch of Crazy Horse and Drive-By Truckers and the lyrical storytelling of the best hard country of Appalachia.  ‘Starling’ glides along like a long-lost song from Florida southern rockers the Outlaws, while ‘The Ballad of Frank Hayes’ tells the tale of a horse race with an unexpected outcome.  Single ‘Franklin County Nights’ is a driving rocker that recalls better times yet refuses to wallow in regret.

On the downside, ‘The Prettiest Girl of All Time’ gets a bit mawkish, and there’s a crawling weeper called ‘Porch Cat’ that waxes sentimental about…well, the title gives it away (the Bottle Rockets handle such material much better).  Still, Drift Mouth’s debut is packed full of crunch and swagger, and just the right touch of grit in its production.  ‘Little Patch of Sky’ is a promising debut and a perfect argument against anyone who believes the tired old phrase, “they don’t make good rock and roll anymore.”

Yes, they do – and ‘Little Patch of Sky’ is the proof.

 

7/10

Summary

Loud guitars and strong songwriting underscore promising debut from Ohio rockers

Author: Mike Elliott

A husband, father, writer, musician, former disc jockey and radio program director, lover of bad jokes, Dylan fanatic, and an all-around pretty good guy.

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