Drew was born in nineteen something in Northern Idaho. At the age of six he met an old woman who lived under the stairs and soon after lost a finger to her mongoose-like teeth. She has since retreated even further into the shadows, but leaves lyrics scribbled on match books in exchange for the dry tack and whiskey he sets out for her each month. In his spare time he picks up a black guitar and finds some semblance of a match between music and word - with special emphasis on guns, whiskey, fire, and the occasional robot.
Giovanni Ansaldo, Extra! Music Magazine www.xtm.it (translated by Giovanni Ansaldo):
"Sometimes there are some musical encounters that catch you instantly, that manage to slip inside your skin like a sweet disease. And we can say that Drew Piston is one of them. This eponymous debut disc for Spider Town Records brings us directly near the Tom Waits’s “Beautiful Maladies” and offers us a harsh landscape made of melancholic stories, loneliness, crime and desolation. The songs of this American boy from North Idaho strike since the first hearing and are based on their skinny and crooked poeticalness inherited from the songwriter of Pomona. Drew is a wandering-puppeteer, able to move wires so wisely: he needs only his voice, accompanied by a guitar and few other instruments that seem to have been found along the way. The shadow of Tom Waits, we must admit, is quite cumbersome but the singer originating in northern Idaho does almost nothing to hide this. He indeed exhibits his influences without shyness. Sometimes the homage risks intruding in plagiarism, as in "Ghost Town Waltz", "War Machine" - is the assonance accidental with "Bone Machine"? - And in the final ballad "Yvette", a story of abandonment (perhaps) with crime. But Piston, beyond obvious inspirations, has a gift that is not usual: the ability to tell stories. Music and lyrics, albeit in their essentiality, are deeply inspiring from the emotional-point of view. His world is made of bottles of whiskey, tickets left along the way, cruel but romantic crimes and friendly ghosts. Its surreal sketches, such as the Asimov-inspired single "I, Human", are often able to leave their mark. Occasionally, as exits from the shadows, small buds emerge, as the touching "Old Man Dancing" or the weirdly-domestic "Dish Song". This last song particularly contains a beautiful verse that we have to mention: «My ghost will find you long before I die». There are also no-happy ending love songs as "Lullaby" and the melancholic "Missus Margee", which seems almost Springsteen-suggested. Another issue that this young singer loves is the crime, seen as an epiphany of the dark reality that is part of the on-the-road-journey. The two songs that open and close the album, "Gun Shy" and "Yvette" are examples of this subject. Examples. This heartfelt attention to outlaws, typical of traditional American folk and very dear to Piston, reminds one of the great Johnny Cash. "Something to See", with its harmonious finale, leads directly to the first Dylan recordings. Drew’s voice, when he finds his way around his influences, is simply exciting. In conclusion we can say that "Drew Piston" is a really strong debut simply because it’s difficult to remain unconnected with the emotional strength of these songs. If you are looking for a new songwriter and if you like folk songs this American boy is the perfect one for your wishes."
Gabriele Benzing, Ondarock (translated by Sarah Jones):
"A brilliant debut in the footsteps of Tom Waits.
What is a naked song? A voice in its purity, an unfinished step? It's like being let in on a secret, like sharing the fragility of an unrepeatable moment. A naked song can't pretend to be what it is not.
From the first, Drew Piston has gathered together his songs without interposing the impetus. And the strength of these songs emerges with more zeal when they occur without defenses. It's like listening to those old cassettes that John Darnielle recorded when The Mountain Goats were still the only outlet of a restless narrator. There are only the limited and vibrant chords of an acoustic guitar to accompany the dreams of Drew Piston, and just his voice -- dark and dusty as that of a Mark Lanegan who has heard too many Eels records -- to distinguish it from the hodgepodge of aspiring songwriters that face the world from a MySpace page everyday.
From the mountains of Idaho to the sun of San Francisco, passing through Carleton College in Minnesota, Drew Piston has undergone his journey with eyes full of disparate projects: on YouTube you can see the courts that has toured the time college, for Dave Eggers' magazine, McSweeney's, he wrote an ironic " Guide to Scientific Expressions in Everday Conversation", on his blog, "How About A Unicorn" you'll find unlikely declarations of love for the tambourine, skateboarding and frozen pizza… And then, of course, there are the songs: songs written without stopping, recorded even during the commercials of "Scrubs" and composed using all kinds of suggestions, including words written by his friend's class of preschoolers.
They are pop songs made from nothing, these creations of Drew Piston: a woody guitar, a chime from a giostrina, a melody that gets inside the soul and a voice that caresses the contours of the notes with rough modesty. "Sidekick Rime" and "Old Man Dancing" play like "Heart of Darkness by Mark Linkous at the dawn of a new day, "Dishes" hovers with a tissue paper lightness: "My ghost will find you / Long before I die ".
The opener, "Gun Shy," with its images of murder, prisons and faraway loves, could come from the songbook of a Johnny Cash in lo-fi. "There is a recurring theme in the love songs that I wrote recently, and that theme is crime," confesses Drew Piston. "Rather than fight it, I decided to embrace it like an affection-starved child."
But above all, the profile of Tom Waits is outlined in his songs, from "Ghost Town Waltz # 1" in which Piston relies on brass, Gothic bells and always popular accordions (to cross-hatch his own "Desolation Row"), to the tango step and the organs of "War Machine," with a grim and metallic voice just like the ogre of Pomona. The problem, if anything, is when the Waitsian suggestions seem excessively explicit and knowable: if there is a limit in the debut of this American songwriter it is the sliding of songs like "Missus Margee" and "Yvette" towards the simple calligraphic exercise.
But when he isn't seduced by overly cumbersome models, Drew Piston demonstrates his own personality. "I, Human" overturns the Asimovian "I, Robot" in a swirl of meowing and whistling analog worthy of a "Casiotone For The Painfully Alone" in the company of the little grandparents of Modesto. A sense of retrofuturismo is reinforced by the black and white video accompanying the music video, taken from an old promotional movie on household robots designed for the 1940 World's Fair in New York.
Drew Piston's verses are made of dreams, whisky and the mirages of flight which always concern someone else. "Tired of songs that say that it's all right / A boxer always wants just one more fight," is mumbled in "Coney Island Candy." And there's "Something To See," taking the pace of a western ballad, with a grainy harmonica that seems to come out of the some bootleg tape of early Dylan.
Between the baritone stamp of "Arson" and the cabaret of "Lullabye," Drew Piston's debut rings with promises and hopes to maintain. In his blog, the American songwriter maintains that "the secret of happiness is always to find a new dream before the current one vanishes." But sometimes dreams can also come true."