The Wood Brothers
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Country - Released January 1, 2006 | Blue Note Records
The Wood Brothers' debut album is a tense and hushed affair full of weighted lyrics peppered with words like truth, faith, spirit, and soul and more angels than you can shake a stick at, and each song seems tipped right at the edge of indecision and confusion. These are largely Oliver Wood's songs, with his brother Chris Wood (of Medeski, Martin & Wood) adding bass and backing vocals and Kenny Wollesen bringing light drums and percussion to five tracks. Oliver seems frozen in a kind of perpetual spiritual dilemma on these tracks, but what keeps the best of these songs from being exercises in self-centered ennui is the dogged hope that shines through between the cracks. The opener, "One More Day," is a perfect example, as it charts the waters of bleak desolation but then slides into the chorus, which goes "Just when your faith is gone/Give it one more day." The music itself is sparse and languid, a sort of folk-blues mix that isn't in too much of a hurry to resolve itself, which gives these cuts a great deal of tension. It all sounds sad and tragic, but then again, the lyrics ultimately lean toward a hopeful future. Among the highlights on Ways Not to Lose are "Glad," a study in tempered ambivalence, an impressive and atmospheric version of the traditional folk hymn "Angel Band," and the wheezing, ominous "Where My Baby Might Be." There isn't unhinged joy in any of these songs, but the promise that better days might be just around the corner if only the right decisions are made floats over everything here. Ways Not to Lose sounds like a bleak record, and it moves at a relentlessly slow pace, but just as the title carries a kind of guarded hope in happy endings, it believes in the possibilities that personal angels are everywhere in life. ~ Steve Leggett
Country - Released February 2, 2018 | Honey Jar Records
Boulder, Colorado's the Wood Brothers have been quietly amassing a rich discography of quality blues, folk, soul, R&B, gospel, and country-rock originals since their 2006 debut. One Drop of Truth marks their sixth trip to the studio, and while it doesn't deviate much from the formula -- a bit of Bob Dylan, a jigger of John Prine, a drop or two of Muddy Waters, and a whole lot of the Band -- it's easily their most laid-back and lived-in sounding collection to date. Opening with a post-hurricane blues lament that's more fun than it should be, the ten-track set touches on nearly every sonic and stylistic roots rock proclivity, from breezy funk ("Happiness Jones") to mellow, harmony-rich retro-pop ("Seasick Emotions"). That's not to say that it doesn't find time to shimmy and shake -- the swampy "Sky High" and the Big Pink-worthy "This Is It" are sure to become live staples -- but Chris and Oliver Wood, along with jack-of-all-trades Jano Rix, have settled into the kind of easy groove that can only stem from spending the last decade or so enduring the myriad inside jokes and stale air of life on the road. ~ James Christopher Monger
Rock - Released January 1, 2008 | Blue Note Records
A Wood Brothers record will always be a fail-safe purchase, the reason being that the musical instincts of Chris and Oliver Wood are as solid and unyielding as a 100-year-old oak. Loaded, the duo's second full-length, satisfies wholly, living up to and maybe past the promise of 2006's Ways Not to Lose. The biggest, most noticeable change is the depth of the songwriting: from the wistful, clear-eyed opening song, "Lovin' Arms," to the tender-hearted "Walkaway" to the quietly introspective closer, "Still Close," the brothers, who co-wrote for the first time on Loaded, reveal a range of feeling as broad and earthily sophisticated as their jazz- and blues-flecked riffs. Soul, not the sound but the entity, is a major component too: while most non-reggae artists falter hopelessly when attempting to switch gears and adopt the genre's sunshiny vibe, the Woods readily access a genuine breezy streak on "Angel," a cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic helped along by buddy Amos Lee. Another cover, of Dylan's "Bucket of Rain," also works a kind of authentic, deep-down magic -- the Woods claim it fully but somehow respectfully. But there is one original that captures the imagination and the ear with unrelenting might: "Postcards from Hell," a folky lyrical mini-masterpiece, is a testament to two musicians whose chemistry is so potent it ought to be bottled. ~ Tammy La Gorce
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