Where the band’s at and how things are.
After the better part of two decades, The Wood Brothers are about to release studio album number eight. For ‘Heart is a Hero’ the band decided not to use computer software to record, mix and master the album and despite taking a risk with this analog recording, these musicians come out sounding fresh and at the top of their game. Siblings Oliver Wood (guitar) and Chris Wood (bass) are bolstered yet again by the multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix. ‘Heart is the Hero’ was recorded in Nashville and engineered by Brook Sutton.
The album gets off to a high spirited beginning with ‘Pilgrim’, a jaunty, acoustic-driven number with some boisterous bass and piano. It’s a great start and their best song. ‘Heart is the Hero’ is another fine tune, again with piano and upright bass to the fore with added harmonica. You can imagine Randy Newman covering this song and it would not sound out of place on any DreamWorks animation.
‘Far from Alone’ is an interesting snapshot of a bar’s clientele. Maybe not the place to wait for your soul to catch up. Trombone and baritone sax are an unexpected addition to the mix near the end. There’s a real country soul feel to ‘Rollin’ On’ while ‘Line those Pockets’ offers up grace as a route to happiness rather than the usual materialistic gain and consumption.
‘Mean Man World’ has Chris Wood, as a father, already concerned about the misogynistic future his daughter is more than likely to encounter. The final song ‘Kitchen Floor’ is beautiful and worth waiting for. Fellow New Yorker Simone Felice would be proud to have written such a song.
The Wood Brothers have captured an accomplished sound in real-time direct from the studio. It’s hard to believe that at the heart of this band is just an acoustic guitar, upright bass and percussion. On this album they take you on a musical heart and soul safari. Sure, some songs could have been grittier, angrier perhaps, or with less embellishment, but this album is heartfelt. They have a well-earned reputation as a must-see live show so expect some exploration of these songs during the band’s forthcoming concerts.
The Wood Brothers’ hearts are definitely still in it.