The Wood Brothers – One Drop Of Truth (2018)

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Like grappling with the lasting, devastating impact of a major weather event, the rest of the Wood Brothers’ newest album like the advance single “River Takes The Town” is about grappling with, accepting and taking on life’s challenges. All over One Drop Of Truth (February 2, 2018) you can find them setting up scenarios and the emotions that result: “there’s a number you can call if your house gets washed away/but it’ll never be the same”, “All of my wisdom came from all the toughest days”, “she says things like that all the time/you can’t tell if she’s laughin’ or cryin'”, “Rather die thirsty than drowning in tears”…

It’s a singular mind crafted by three makers: lead vocalist/guitarist Oliver Wood, his brother the bassist Chris Wood and Jano Rix, who plays drums and pretty much everything else. They all pitched in composing ten fresh songs held together not by some lofty theme but independent stories that share this confessional thread, even when songs were inspired by societal trends (like the emptiness of finding artificial happiness, a point so coyly made on “Happiness Jones”).

These tales are told in many different styles, as the Wood Brothers are quality, rangy musicians (and singers). That “Happiness Jones” I just mentioned in passing? Rix and Chris Wood lay down a dead-on funk groove underpinning a melody similar to Ray Charles’ “Busted” but sarcastically conveys the exact opposite sentiment. That same rhythm section loosens up for a rough shuffle “Laughin’ Or Crying,” powered by Oliver Wood’s blustery guitar. “Sky High” sees Oliver on slide guitar over a rolling beat that’s close to hand-made hip-hop.

Chris Wood on stand-up bass hooks up with Rix’s bass drum to set a foot stomping beat, as Oliver Wood sings of a drug mistaken for love from drinking “Sparkling Wine”; later on, Rix’s clavinet gets a brief funky solo turn. Chris Wood takes the lead vocals on “Seasick Emotions,” with great chorus harmonies and Oliver Wood’s acoustic slide making this just right. Oliver is nearly alone with a fingerpicked acoustic guitar for the quiet ballad “Strange As It Seems,” though his brother’s bowed bass adds a touch of weight to it.

Oliver Wood feels that One Drop Of Truth “is the most purely Wood Brothers’ album we’ve ever made.” With emotional directness, wit, and uncanny musicianship, pure Wood Brothers translates into pure roots rock joy.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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