Under various guises James Toth has a vast back catalogue, we’re talking number of hot dinners vast here. The latest album Death Seat opens with the kind of shanty that wouldn’t be out of place signaling the end of a night where you end up surrounded by your cohorts smashing out tunes on the ol’ geetar & joanna as the album title track floats down from above to nurse away even the bitterest of of pre-sleep hangovers. It’s a great way to kick off but following that, it has to be said, the peaks & troughs come in equal measures.
The album in it’s entirety doesn’t really break any new ground but what Wooden Wand do, they do well. It’s a tastefully delivered & composed affair all in all but one that just never really finds the right spark to set the whole thing off, although the excellent “Death Seat” comes pretty close with stirring maudlin mandolin effects, next time you’re going through a bad patch this is definitely the one to reach for.
The down tempo tunes roll by one after one through till the end, there’s a no nonsense approach that given the right mood or taste can be very appealing especially when the accompanying backing vocals are granted a bit more space to make their impact on the track as they do on “The Arc” but it’s not going to revolutionize the country folk scene anytime soon, indeed the only mildly abstract moment appears in “Servant To Blues” when an auto-wah guitar emerges screeching from the speakers, but saying that, I think if your looking for genre defining classics from Wooden Wand then you may have missed the point anyway.
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More of an artistic statement lyrically than music for relating to the masses, James sets his benchmark by declaring tales & experience over a backdrop of lamenting acoustics & there’s no doubt it’s something he’s very comfortable doing, his voice tailored to the mood like a bespoke suit & although this could almost be considered the counteractive point that boxes them in as an artist, as the well worn saying goes “… if it ain’t broke.” Need something new to inspire you to push through a musical boundary? Not for you. Feeling melancholic & need to know that you’re not alone? You’d do well to give Death Seat a spin.
Buy CD: DEATH SEAT