When it comes to truth, The Wood Brothers have proclaimed that their new album One Drop of Truth was the most fun the band has had making a record. This concept might be hard to believe ten records in, but this self-produced album feels free. That happiness shows. Featured in both Rolling Stone and NPR as a preemptive strike, the force of this musical tsunami of talent is not to be taken lightly.
The Wood Brothers have something to say on their sixth studio album One Drop of Truth via Honey Jar Records/Thirty Tigers. This trio, comprised of Chris and Oliver Wood along with Jano Rix, created a ten-track collection that drifts away from their normal, concept-oriented fare into a deeper level of sonic genius. Simple and elegant, this is authentic beyond belief. “Often, when you’re making an album in the traditional way, there will be a unifying concept, whether that be in the approach to the music stylistically or lyrically in terms over the overall narrative. And even though there are some themes that revealed themselves later, this one is all over the place,” explains Oliver Wood. “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.”
The band’s embrace of a diverse release has offered up a collection of tracks that slide through vibes effortlessly. A stellar showcase of dense instrumentation and lush rich vocals, this is not 2015’s Paradise. That one was called “the warmest, most sublime and occasionally rowdiest Wood Brothers release yet” by American Songwriter. One Drop of Truth is a revolution and evolution; rather than recording all at once in the same studio, one or two songs a day were tracked then allowed to rest.
Sliding in with “River Takes the Town,” a comfortable flood of familiarity eases in lyrically. Oliver Wood’s poignant delivery envelops the listener with a flood of emotion. Featuring a groove that will not quit, “Happiness Jones” (the first single from the album) dips into the sublime contradictions of love and life. “Laughing or Crying” is a gem of folk composition, as Jano Rix makes this a great adventure in a gypsy-esque romp through the haunts of the city. The tune is a dark narrative of decay and contradiction. Listeners get a visual with the music here: this is songwriting at its best.
Soft and sensual, “Strange As It Seems” is a love song for the ages. Beautifully arranged cello and guitar shine along with simple vocals. Earthy and real, this is a picture of love painted with musical notes. A masterful bit of sequencing happens with “Sky High” here taking love from the bedroom out into a strut on the street; a completely different different experience.
Among the standouts on this masterful album, “Seasick Emotions” is a seascape blowing in with a hollow wind. Chris Wood’s bass paints a seascape of metaphors lyrically. Beautifully executed with harmonies reminiscent of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, this song is stellar. Finding listeners over halfway through a great album, “This Is It” brings it backs to the porch or barn dance: simple life, rustic and real. Chris and Oliver Wood are so good together, and this song is that toe-tapping damn good time. No pretense, no confusion. Just love.
With an acapella opening “One Drop Of Truth” wraps up this album with a raw, swanky groove that earns its place as the title track. Honky tonk instrumentation is just damn cool, fading out with an echo of hope toward the final track. Hitting it home with “Can’t Look Away,” this is the partner to the title track; rather than selling one’s soul, it is best to walk away, The Wood Brothers say. It’s the perfect haunting bluesy punctuation mark on the album. Regardless of what the band says about no concept going in, there is definitely one for the listener going out. Truth is all about seeing the train wreck and the love while not losing hope in between. —Lisa Whealy