The Wood Brothers are a Southern country trio from Colorado consisting of bassist Chris Wood (of Medeski, Martin & Wood fame) , guitarist brother Oliver and Jano Rix on drums, their sixth, longing-themed album ‘Paradise‘ turns up the heat somewhat for a rockier, more electric sound. And a little funkier too, as is quickly made clear with American Heartache with its scratchy guitar riffs and subsequently reinforced on the jerky, bluesy rhythm of the snakily sung Without Desire and the brass reinforced Raindrop.
It is, in many ways, the sort of sound you’d expect from an act with their sort of roots playing this sort of music, part informed by the blues, part by country, and often filtered through a bar rock gauze.
It’s the punchier side that kicks off, harmonica wailing on the drawled, mid tempo Singing To Strangers, a track that has just a hint of The Band about it, as well as an amusing play on words about a guy who joined the army and became a major disappointment and then worked at an inconvenience store and who, like the girl in the song, comes alive singing down the local joint every night.
They kick up the dust too on the choogling Snake Eyes, while things cook in moodier mode with the lazy r&b burn of Never And Always, a track that features guest appearances by Susan Tedeschi in backing vocals and Derek Trucks on slide guitar solo. However, those with a fondness for their earlier work will be pleased to know there’s some more stripped down numbers too, notably Two Places, which builds from a simple acoustic strum to a slow swaying march featuring euphonium and trombone, the folksy fingerpicked Heartbreak Lullaby and, Chris back on upright bass, the closing pairing of the jazzy Touch Of Your Hand and a gospel-tinged piano-backed, Randy Newman-like River Of Sin.
Depending on the choice of tempo, it’s probably best heard with a bourbon or a Bud beer, ideally in some Nashville bar, but it’ll sound just as good with a warm beer in the living room.
Paradise is Out Now
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