For reasons I can’t quite understand, a feeling of overwhelming intimidation washes over my body and mind anytime and everytime I think about writing a review for Wooden Wand’s new album, Blood Oaths of the New Blues. I can sit here and try to hash out all of the reasons, but the main one is, Wooden Wand, aka James Jackson Toth, is a damn good songwriter and musician. Yeah, sure he’s a nice guy, but nice guys can be intimidating when they’re this talented. And, like a true artist, it’s artistic expression and music that flows through Wooden Wand’s body like blood, so it’s this same lifesource he shares like a blood oath to whoever is listening.
Described as “the Sunday morning ‘wake and bake’ album” on Fire Records‘ website, Blood Oaths is everything you would expect from an album with such a description — heady, smokey, weary, warm and soothing. Opening with “No Bed For Beatle Wand/Day This Long,” a lengthy and meandering song that builds anticipation for the tracks that follow. The alt-country ballad “Supermoon” has a textured soundscape that hums, writhes, and ripples around heartbreaking lyrics and the weariness in Wooden Wand’s voice. While the tone changes to ominous in “Southern Colorado Song” with its arrangement that wonderfully captures the sound of the inevitable in a nowhere-left-to-run situation. It tells the true story of the Dougherty Gang, a group of siblings who went on a multi-state crime spree that started in Florida which included a bank robbery in Georgia and ended with a police shootout in Colorado. Wooden Wand musically summons the feelings of fear, panic, and a nothing-left-to-lose mindset that makes “Southern Colorado Song” a genius piece of storytelling and an album highlight.
Blood Oaths for the New Blues is and will be one of the masterpieces of 2013. It’s a Wooden Wand benchmark, but a benchmark that will most likely be surpassed by his next album. A terrifically prolific songwriter, I have no doubt that Wooden Wand will continue to amaze and entrance listeners with genre-bending music. And, as we all know, “prolific” doesn’t work for everyone (especially when it pertains to songwriting), but since Wooden Wand is insanely brilliant it works for him. It’s this brilliance that makes me as a listener feel like Wooden Wand is now my blood brother sharing a piece of himself in every song on this album and every album that came before with the personal and eternal promise of good music. And, I think it’s safe to say that this blood oath will not be broken.
Buy Blood Oaths of the New Blues
Wooden Wand: Website; Facebook; Twitter; Fire Records