With a lineage that links The Bangles, the dB's, Dream Syndicate and The Cowsills, there's something sure captivating about Continental Drifters. Full of ragged acoustic and electric guitars, superb songs, and sublime harmonies, Vermilion offers a stirring dose of Americana that recalls the likes of The Band, Lucinda Williams, and even The Mamas and the Papas. Check out Susan Cowsill's wondrous and raspy vocal in “Spring Day in Ohio,” the lazy and infectious grooves in “Drifters,” or the snarling true grit of Peter Holsapple's “Don't Do What I Did.” It's all very far from slick, but the pieces fall together perfectly. The song structures are brilliant throughout, bringing life to spirited gems like Holsapple's “Darlin', Darlin',” the Faces-flavored “Meet Me in the Middle,” and the band's blasting brand of Bakersfield twang, “Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway.”
Vicki Peterson, late of The Bangles, provides plenty of surprises as well, most notably during the deeply reflective and achingly painful “Who We Are, Where We Live,” which was written about her fiancee's death. Originally issued in Europe last year, this album has taken way too long to come out in the U.S. Yet its belated stateside release is a welcome one.