Often overshadowed by its southern counterpart Tennessee, Kentucky has become something of a hotbed for the finest in the Americana, country and bluegrass resurgence the last few years. The Kentucky-based Wooks’ sophomore studio effort, Glory Bound, sees that train moving ever onward, but never losing sight of the hills and hollers they call home. Glory Bound was recorded by long time Elkhorn City, KY native, J.T. Cure, at Rickey Wasson’s Main Street Studio located in Clay City, KY, and mixed by Grammy Award Winning engineer, Vance Powell. The Kentucky outfit consists of CJ Cain (lead guitar, vocals), Harry Clark (mandolin, vocals), Arthur Hancock (guitar, lead vocals), and Roddy Puckett (bass, vocals) and employs the assistance of Jesse Wells (fiddle), Will Parsons (banjo), George Wagman (banjo) and Junior Williams (high baritone).
The virtuosity and technical prowess of the The Wooks and Co. are on center stage for the 10 track effort, but the handcrafted original songs and the handpicked covers are really what set “Glory Bound” apart from other recent bluegrass albums released by their contemporaries. Replace with, The Wooks transport you into the heart of Appalachia with a glass of bourbon in hand and a refreshing reminder why they call it, “The Bluegrass State.”
The opening track, “Union Pacific,” puts all the bands’ parts on display with the moan of Wells fiddle and the high baritone of Williams. Song credit goes to Lexington, KY musician Eric Cummins, and this would not be the last we would see from Kentucky’s flourishing songwriter scene. “Little Sandy Queen” starts with the guitar driven groove laid down by Cain, and features lyrics, penned by Cain, calling for the universal adoration of his gal,” Sandy Queen.” The albums namesake, “Glory Bound,” has those high lonesome harmonies we’ve come to associate with the genre, along with a traditional chord progression. This track gives the listener a glimpse into the bands bluegrass influences, past and present. The band continues its nod to its predecessors and present-day contemporaries on the next three tracks. The fifth track takes its influence from Appalachia and moves it over the Atlantic Ocean and into the UK. Taking on the Beatles is always a daunting task, but The Wooks take on, “Dear Prudence”, has The Wooks breaking free of the standards set forth by uptight bluegrass aficionados and naysayers, as the quartet carves out a blissful soundscape all their own, along with the tasteful contributions of Wells and Wagman. The next track is one that finds its roots much closer to the hills and hollers of Kentucky. “‘Seng” is a previously unreleased song written by Eastern Kentuckian and legend-in-the-making, Tyler Childers. Telling the story of Ginseng hunters running the hills trying to make a dollar, it spells out a love story that only real Appalachian folk can identify with. Rounding out the the mid-album trifecta of covers is, in my opinion, the finest cover featured on “Glory Bound,” Ryan Adams’ “Let it Ride.” The Wooks show courage with this tune. Adams’ impossibly sad and somber lyrics, set to the bands harrowing backdrop, create an absolute glorious rendition of one of my personal favorites. Clark shines on this one, carving out the melody in the dark key of D minor. Continuing a dark tonality, The Wooks’ most fearless track, “Surface,” is written by Hancock and Aaron Bibelhauser. The six plus minute track embodies the bands’ originality with a unique progression and self-reflective lyrics.
If the Kentucky music scene is likened to a freight train, The Wooks have jumped behind the wheel of “The Old Reliable” and pushed the throttle down to help set its course, “Glory Bound.” See for yourself, here: http://www.wookoutamerica.com/