Artist: The Wood Brothers
Album: One Drop of Truth
Label: Thirty Tigers
Release Date: 2.2.2018
Although the Wood Brothers used a couple of studios and four different engineers, the band claims that this is their most unified album yet and the one that best represents their pure trio sound. Additionally, Oliver Wood adds, “It’s the freest album we’ve done, the most independent album we’ve done, and was the most fun we’ve ever had making a record.” He went on to describe this as anything but a concept album, or one with a central theme. “What I really love about this record is that each one of these songs has its own little world. There are diverse sounds and vibes from one track to the next.”
So, although the band felt no real pressure to make a record and decided instead to try some different approaches, a few common themes emerged. Water—portrayed as a teardrop, a storm, a rive, or a libation—was being used as a metaphor in the search for truth and happiness. Water informs Chris Wood’s (bass, harmonica) “Seasick Emotion,” which was written about the convergence of a hurricane and the election. It’s a sense an extension of the opener “River Takes the Town,” about a series of hurricanes taking place across the country. Emotional struggle is another thread, found in “Happiness Jones” and the title track and—perhaps the album’s standout track, written by Oliver Wood (guitar and most lead vocals)—“Strange As It Seems” which is about a disconnected couple who finally find some peace. Although many of the tunes search for signs of beauty and hope among struggles, they often paint vividly stark images too, as in “Can’t Look Away,” depicting a soldier’s widow in the graveyard: “She doesn’t notice the headstone while/bouquets and leftover lost respects/just the one purple wildflower comin’ up/from the dirt on the grave.”
The mixing process deserves some mention. Scotty Hard (who’s worked as long-time engineer for Chris’s other band, Medeski, Martin, and Wood) was recruited for the edgier, funkier tunes, “Sky High” and “Happiness Jones.” Mike Poole who worked on their album The Muse, mixed ‘Sparking Wine” and “Strange AS It Seems.” Brandon Belle from Zac Brown’s studio, Southern Ground, engineered “Laughin’ or Cryin’” and Grammy-Award winning engineer Trina Shoemaker mixed the remaining tunes.
If you’ve been fortunate to see this band live, their chemistry and energy is crowd pleasing to say the least. And there’s no other musician who plays keyboards and drums simultaneously like Jano Rix. Here Rix plays piano, melodica, organ, and a dazzling array of percussion instruments. Together with Chris Wood, who creates some bizarre sounds on his bowed bass, you’d be hard-pressed to think this is a trio (no guests) when listening. Running the gamut from acoustic country-folk to slide-infused funk and jazzy jam band style, as you listen across the ten tracks, it’s an impressive display of musicianship and songwriting.