In the chorus of the first song "New Eyes Open" on the Draftís album, Chris Wollard shouts, ďThatís what I like about it, itís not so complicated.Ē While he might have been singing about things other than his musical pursuits, the same can be said about what makes their debut album, In a Million Pieces, such a great accomplishment.
The Draft is made up of three quarters of the recently defunct Hot Water Music. When Chuck Ragan left the band to pursue more time with his family and a new acoustic project, the remaining members -- bassist Jason Black, vocalist/guitarist Chris Wollard, and drummer George Rebelo -- decided they werenít ready to slow down, appointed Todd Rockhill to join Wollard on guitar and started this project.
With 75 percent of the band carrying over from HWM, itís obvious that the band had a real challenge in front of them as far as carving a new identity goes. While losing Raganís vocals have a noticeable effect, Black and Rebeloís work as a rhythm section had an equally prominent role in their previous band.
Getting back to the whole issue of being less complicated, gone are the traded and sometimes overlapping vocals between two vocalists. In the Draft, Wollard handles the vocal duties entirely with minimal backup vocals being employed, with exceptions in a few songs including "All We Can Count On." The bandís music is also a lot less challenging, especially when compared to some of Hot Water Musicís earlier work. Most notably, thereís a clear sense of melody that gets through with the Draft that was rarely seen in Hot Water Music. Songs like "Out of Tune" sound like they were written by a completely different band. Itís plain to see that the guys in the Draft are making the music they want and are having a genuine good time in doing so. If there was ever a sense of worry that things might end with their old project, theyíre gone now.
One of the drawbacks -- although perhaps highlights for some -- is a couple of the songs donít exemplify the new identity the Draft has created for itself. The best example is "Lo Zee Rose," which sounds like it would have fit right in on Hot Water Musicís last album, The New What Next. Thankfully, the great majority of these songs donít fall into that trap.
Had I been in the position that Wollard, Rebelo, and Black were in going into in the Draft, I would have been looking to appeal to long-time fans while giving people who were never really into us a chance to reconsider what we had to offer. The Draft have laregely accomplished that on In a Million Pieces, and thereís little doubt in my mind that they will further cement themselves as their own entity the next time around.