Being the musically eclectic artist that Clay Joule is, means that the connection between his songs is often found in the form of a vibe or a subtle signature nuance rather than a firm musical fingerprint or obvious modus operandi. But what does always firmly connect one piece to the next is purpose. Whether firing off rock and roll salvos or, as he does here, laying out more soulful sonic sensations, it is always the message which is tantamount. After all, music that doesn’t have anything new or relevant to say is just entertainment, but with some thought, it can be so much more. Drifters is so much more.

I always say that collaborations bring the best out of each artist involved. Find the right musical partner, and they will push you into new ways of working and open your mind to new ideas, styles, and sounds. Why make music based solely on one person’s thoughts and life experiences? Indeed, two people working together have twice as much to offer. 

That may be why Drifters sets new benchmarks for Clay Joule’s music. Here, joined by theatrical vocalist Elisa Mammoliti, the music takes on more harmonic and heavenly qualities. It is draped in vocal treatments that add so much to the music, softens the edges, adds sweetness and light, sounds that act as the perfect platform for Clay Joule to make his mark with the song’s messaging.

And a poignant and powerful message, it is indeed. Although an ocean separates the people who made this music and me, the problem it addresses is a global issue. Homelessness. Homelessness is a significant problem for our age, perhaps the most important. Everything from economic policy to personal crises, from emotional concerns to substance abuse and mental health to debt, home repossession, physical danger and a whole host of other situations can lead to physical homelessness.

When you consider emotional homelessness, of people who may have a roof over their head but live in a state of fear, trauma and lack of love or consideration, the numbers become unimaginable. The song also has something to say about judging those in such situations. “Don’t judge people for the choices they make when you don’t know the options they had.”

This is why we need people like Clay Joule, and of course, Elisa Mammoliti, people who are willing to use their platform and reach out to talk about the day’s critical issues. Writing a song about breaking up with your girl might make the charts. Writing one highlighting the failings of society might change the world. I know which one I’d rather get behind.

But of course, the message, no matter how necessary, how vital, and how powerful, is only one part of the package. Here, the music forged to act as its musical vehicle is as poised and graceful as the message is potent.

Based around a spacious and solid beat, with guitars that slash and slice one minute and wander off on ornate solo, odysseys the next, the balance of space and vocals that glide across the top really define the song. Not taking anything away from the instrumentation and those who make it, everything is placed perfectly, and the song is served, but this, perhaps more than any of his work before, is about voices, communication and expression.

Poised, poignant, powerful and full of purpose. It is less an ordinary song and more the soundtrack and rallying cry to a cause.


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