Watch Philly gutter folk outfit Driftwood Soldier visit WXPN Studios for The Key and Folkadelphia - WXPN
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Owen Lyman-Schmidt and Bobby Szafranski have brought a basement punk attitude to folk music for the past five years, under the banner of Driftwood Soldier. Szafranski plays a gliding bass with fuzz pedal tones in the mix, and works a handful of nail-and-bottlecap strewn noisemakers. Lyman-Schmidt stomps a rhythm on a kick pedal that smacks a license plate, and accompanies his gravely Tom Waits-esque basso profundo with pensive mandolin strums. They call their style “gutter folk,” and it’s a name that fits both the sound and the songwriting themes of injustice in the world at large.

On their sophomore album, Stay Ahead of the Wolf, the band presents a series of character sketches that explore topics like systemic racism in America (an updated take on the folk tale “John Henry”) and the nefarious impulses of human nature (“Sunny Side,” where Lyman-Schmidt snarls “we’re all just animals, trying our damndest to survive”). It also presents an expanded sound, particularly with Eric Sherman playing trumpet and Katy Otto joining the band on full kit percussion.

Otto accompanies the band on two songs recorded live in WXPN studios for Folkadelphia and The Key; “Put Me Down” is an aggressively swinging song about independence in the wake of abandonment, while “Marietta” takes a gentler tone to tell a story of desperation that seems plucked from the files of Cormac McCarthy. The set also delivers four duo-style Driftwood songs, beginning with the feverish “All My Friends.”

Watch video of that and “Put Me Down” below, and stream the entire studio session via Folkadelphia’s Bandcamp. Driftwood Soldier’s next Philly show is March 13th at Boot and Saddle, when they share the stage with The Bones of J.R. Jones. Get details on that show at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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