Driftwood's Dan Forsyth goes solo with the lonely, lovely 'Friday Night Nowhere' 

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If you aren’t sure what you’re getting into with the debut solo album from Driftwood frontman Dan Forsyth, the cover for “Friday Night Nowhere” offers some clues.

It depicts a deserted country crossroads at night in winter, illuminated by headlights. In the distance is a dusky blue horizon. To the left is the light. To the right, only dark.

“Friday Night Nowhere” leads somewhere, but the earnest country lilt in Forsyth’s voice and limited acoustic guitar-centric instrumentation suggests the destination may be a solitary one. The music of Driftwood often breaks into jubilant, string-happy sing-alongs and danceable Americana, but Forsyth’s sobering country-folk sensibility pervades solo songs that take their time. None of them get much past a persistent mid-tempo feel.

Fans of David Rawlings and Gillian Welch will be right at home with Forsyth. The Ithaca musician’s voice is so close in tone to that of Rawlings that, at times, it’s as if you’re listening to a Dave Rawlings Machine record.

Forsyth manages to sound both fatigued and hopeful, lending the songs a bleary-eyed, blue-collar perseverance. The true gem of the nine-song collection is “Shadow Dancing,” a love song about overcoming adversity:

We let the bottom fall out again/
But it’s so beautiful from here I would never want it built
All this hustling and it’s perfect/
So hard but such a dream…

It’s so simple and unrehearsed
Swaying in the streetlight, forgetting all of the world
And it’s so easy and understood
All of those hard times turning good
When the lights they go down, spinning in the dark
Shadow dancing

“Friday Night Nowhere” is far from a groundbreaking album, but it isn’t trying to be. Its solid country songs are for deep thinkers with deeper emotions. Forsyth wrote this music during the doldrums of the pandemic, and it shows.

Existential crises aside, we’ll always have music. And as we head into midwinter, “Friday Night Nowhere” is a great reminder.

Forsyth plays a CD release show for “Friday Night Nowhere” on Thursday, Jan. 12, at Abilene Bar & Lounge, 153 Liberty Pole Way. Doors open at 4 p.m., and the music starts at 7:30. Tickets are $12 in advance and $16 the day of the show. abilenebarandlounge.com.

Daniel J. Kushner is CITY’s arts editor. He can be reached at [email protected].
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