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Music Review: Driftwood Fire – How to Untangle a Heartache

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On August 23, Driftwood Fire will release their debut album, How to Untangle a Heartache.

Lynn Scharf’s smooth-as-ocean-polished-glass voice, coupled with the sweet sounds Charlotte Formichella can coax out of her banjo and guitar make this duo stand apart. It’s no surprise to hear the lonesome soul-touching songs of Appalachia at the root of their music; both artists were raised in the Scottish mountains of Virginia.

The band is really gaining momentum and accolades. While it’s certainly truethe alternative/folk genre is crowded with new talent offerings, Scharf and Formichella are slowly separating their music from the usual pack. Driftwood Fire captured this year’s Merle Fest/Chris Austin Songwriting contest, first place in the International Narrative Song Contest, as well as Honorable Mention at the Telluride Troubadour Contest.

Like the enormous talents of Emmylou Harris and Mary Gauthier, Driftwood Fire’s strengths are not only their unique musical compositions; the band’s storytelling through song can compete with the best.  Weaving historical Americana with modern day sensibilities, Formichella and Scharf create the perfect balance between the newer alternative coffee-house sound and the timeless beauty of mountain folk music.

I am a big fan of balladeers, and How to Untangle a Heartache is all about the ballad.  The second track on the album, “Appalachian Hills,” is without a doubt my favorite of the bunch, though all the selections are stand alone hits. Scharf’s voice was made for this music, as it’s timeless, mournful, and distinctive.

Then, with a quick turn of a banjo key, suddenly you get a jaunty whimsical jazz piece with “Intermission,” – very reminiscent of Django Reinhardt’s famous hot jazz gypsy sound.

But, the most beautiful song on the CD is “The Salty Sea”; like melting chocolate the duo’s voices swirl together as you find you’re toe-tapping to the jaunty sea ballad/love song: “while I rock upon the waves I’ll build you a harbor in my heart”.

You might be living near where they next tour, so check out any opportunity to hear these ladies in person.  And for the best $10 you’ll spend this month, hop on over to their site and get your own copy of How to Untangle a Heartache. You’ll do more than like this CD. You’ll love it.

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