The Legendary River Drifters brand of folk is about as "in your face" as accordions, mandolins and saws can get. From the get go, Suzanne Magnusson's raw vocal holler darn near overpowers the acoustic ensemble. But on tracks such as "The Fire" an agreement is struck between her and the band (in which she plays the saw: so spooky, so sexy) where she will belt it out and they will quietly build a solid foundation of creative arrangements that allows her to pert near scream her bloody head off.
These kids know about balance and Magnusson's voice is somehow as soft as it is thunderous on "Jesus." Her saw quietly traces around the melody, creating a melancholic juxtaposition of voice and instrument as she wonders if Jesus will remember her on judgment day. The Devil gets his due on the high-energy, tick-in-your-shorts jig, "Devil Dance." At 1:53, it could last another three minutes and we would all be sweatier, better people for having heard it.
Embracing the great themes of folk music—regret, redemption, whiskey, Satan, Jesus—The Drifters make it all sound so easy, but doing what's been done and making it this interesting is tough.
The Legendary River Drifters plays the Top Hat Monday, Aug. 16, at 9 PM. Cover TBA.