A blue-collar authenticity all too often missing from contemporary country music flows through “This Is My Blood,” the long-delayed, worth-the-wait debut album from The Dirt Drifters.
Like many major-label country bands, the Drifters — Moore natives Matt Fleener (lead vocals/guitar) and his brother Ryan Fleener (vocals/guitar), New Jersey-bred Jeff Middleton (vocals/guitar), Tennessee-raised Jeremy Little (bass) and Louisiana-born Nick Diamond (drums) — mingle heartland rock, honky-tonk and Americana in their sound. But they actually sound like a real band rather than a manufactured product.
As seasoned survivors of the Nashville, Tenn., music machine, life has provided plenty of experience in the automotive, construction and related industries for the band members. So when they pay tribute to the working man's blessings and curses with “Name on My Shirt,” his easily justified celebratory drinking on “Always a Reason” or his frustrated hope for “Something Better” on the toe-tapping first single, they can do it with tuneful authority.
The road-tested songwriter/musicians aren't novices, and they aren't afraid to let the age or the mileage seep into the cautionary tale “Married Men and Motel Rooms,” the melancholy ballad “Hurt Somebody” or the go-for-broke rocker “Just Got Tonight.”
The Drifters don't have to name-drop Willie Nelson or Waylon Jennings in an attempt to co-opt some outlaw credibility; “The Red Headed Stranger” can be heard crooning “On the Road Again” as the band boldly opines about politics, the media, celebrity role models and more. For the title track, the band delivers an affecting acoustic anthem about country living blessedly devoid of the put-on rural pandering that has become so trendy in modern country music.
Hopefully, The Dirt Drifters will soon get the chance to record a sophomore album that will show more of their blue-collar blood.