Sol Driven Train - Lighthouse

Sol Driven Train will change your mood for the better, even if you're already perfectly content.
The beachy South Carolina quintet creates a sunny, smooth sound that blends the lyrical weight of folk and traditional music with a breezy southern jam style. The result, as evidenced on their latest disc Lighthouse, is some of the most agreeable music you'll ever hear, tailor made to make all kinds of activities more enjoyable.

The band's vocals, both individually and harmonized, are rightly mellow and based in reality, and the natural environment plays a featured role in everything they do. The title track could be the theme song for any number of southern harbor towns, with gentle acoustic guitars and brushy drums beneath a tale of pirates and the dangers of the sea. Russell Clarke's sax blows sandy serenity across the band's friendly grooves on the pleasant "Circle Song #2" and helps create melodic depth on "Friend of Mercy," never bellowing into noisy territory, merely accenting the gorgeous backdrop. "Banks' Waltz" showcases the band's patience and firm grasp of various genres, as Joel Timmons' vocals cut through an atmosphere of forgotten days and dances gone by. "Intravenous Peace," the album's most schizophrenic track, mixes things up with darker moods, jazz-dance grooves and a spooky percussion outro that leads into the foreboding start of "Santa Fe." "Santa Fe" has a moody rhythm that is brightened by subtle sax and positive lyrics with percolating percussion. Their heartfelt lyrics and effortless vocal style shine here.

The only thing I found myself wanting from Lighthouse was a bit more of the band's well-documented energy - the disc's most rocking moment comes during the lighthearted mid-tempo slink of "The Cave" -  but it's also nice to know that Sol Driven Train can handle any kind of stylistic sharp curve, and while Lighthouse stands in contrast to their live performances, it also reveals a mastery and depth of songwriting and song construction - two entirely different things that few can combine. I'd recommend picking up Lighthouse along with their Live On The Outer Banks disc and checking it all out. While Lighthouse belies the band's on-stage explosiveness, it's a perfect navigational companion to the intensity of their live shows.

--Bryan Rodgers