It is sometimes funny how you find music to suit your mood or more accurately how, sometimes the music finds you. Perhaps it is because I am in a strange mood after watching “Inside Out” last night (a beautiful and really affective film by the way) but I didn’t feel like writing today on the blog. Then I thought I would take a look generally for some music to listen to. I have a long list of artists to review and check out. Out of this long list I managed to pick out “The Driftwood Manor”. I don’t know why I made that selection but it is funny that the gentle alt-folk sound reflects my mood today. The more I listened to their music, the more I thought this is music worth sharing.
The Driftwood Manor is Eddie Keenan. Hailing from Athlone, Eddie has had a prolific career so far as the Driftwood Manor. As far as I can make out, The Driftwood Manor started out as a group but quickly became the moniker of Eddie. I say prolific as the band have released three albums and six E.P’s to date, some on U.K labels. The band was also voted in The Irish Times’ Breakthrough Acts of the Year for 2011 yet despite that, I came across them by accident.
The band first release was in 2008 with “A Gathering” (tracks that you can still find on MySpace). From listening to this and the EP “Every Light Goes Out Eventually“, you get a sense of an artist willing to experiment, discover and explore their own sound and the folk genre. It is folk music but with much experimentation and exploration. Words are minimal in these early releases. Space is really explored with long songs consisting of few transitions. It lays the foundations for the release and acclaim of their 2011 release “The Same Figure (Leaving)“.
His early release were self-released with Irish labels Slow Loris/Rusted Rail re-releasing “The Same Figure Leaving”. This album is more of a traditional affair. The space is still there, the sound settled into a alt-folk place. His words are lovely and the accompanying fiddle of Neil Fitzgibbon, backing vocal of Anne-Marie Deacy and Bryan Higgins on guitar add a ethereally feel to the sound.
Their 2014’s release “Of the Storm“, was voted in the Folk Radio UK ‘Albums of the Year for 2014’. You can see how The Driftwood Manor seems to have been embraced more in the U.K. than here in Ireland. The folk sound is more of the English rather than Irish or American tradition which is more popular on these shores. Songs like “Afloat by the Grace of God” could easily fit into a collection of traditional English folk ballads without you realising it.
The band toured the U.K. extensively in 2014 on the back of the critical success of the release and appeared at a number of festivals. The band’s most recent release “For The Moon” feels like a step in a different direction though. Released on English label Folkwit Records, there is a certain americana frontier feel to the record and first single “Fraction of A Wolf”. It is definitely one that most pricked my ears. It is both lonely and haunting. A slow build of melody and emotion, the song drifts in the air. The middle eight both enhances and supports this seeping sound. A Beautiful song.
Driftwood Manor name probably suit the sound of the band. The soundscape of early releases has been one of space, openness and a move away from traditional structure of a folk sound. With later release Eddie has moved from the edge to nearer the middle while still putting his stamp on a genre that can often appear as one that lacks experimentation. The Driftwood Manor have a sound that captures your attention and gently soothes through beautiful harmony and composition.