REVIEW: Wood & Wire’s “No Matter Where It Goes From Here” is Elaborate and Distinguished


Wood & Wire – No Matter Where It Goes From Here

If interested in something with a touch of The Band at its most traditional (“Evangeline” or “Ophelia”) in a more rural setting, elaborate & distinguished – Wood & Wire will fit the bill with its chiming banjos & mandolins.

“John,” the leadoff has an antiquated traditionally sounding vocal akin to Dr. Ralph Stanley. While the voice is a little thin but what supports it is the proficiency of energy & enthusiasm — evident throughout the vocal.

“Can’t Keep Up,” (vocal by Tony Kamel) & “Pigs,” has a beautifully reminiscent sound similar to the best efforts of the Goose Creek Symphony with Charlie Gearheart (the medley “Saturday Night at the Grange/L’il Liza Jane/ Everybody Wants to Boogie/Black Jack Davy/Plans of the Lord”) celebrating its 52nd year — would fit with Wood & Wire.

Wood & Wire’s musicians are breezy with their string arrangements & penetrating little melodies that delight. The 9-cut CD is the band’s first since its 2018 Grammy-nominated “North of Despair.” While the roots of the music is bluegrass it’s played as it should — invigoratingly with virtuosic performances.

Wood & Wire – No Matter Where It Goes From Here On (Drops Aug. 28 – Blue Corn Music) recorded in Texas features Trevor Smith (banjo/vocal); Dom Fisher (bass/vocals); Tony Kamel (guitar/vocals) & Billy Bright (mandolin/mandola/baritone & electric guitar/vocals) with guest performer Old & In the Way musician Peter Rowan (Vocals/yodels on “Roadie’s Circles”).

The song subjects are intriguing. Banksy (a UK graffiti street artist) & the author Jack Kerouac (“John”), social commentary to the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion (“Spirit of ‘94”) & steam-powered river travel. Creativity abounds. There are no powerhouse vocals in this bluegrass. No Elvis Presley (“Blue Moon of Kentucky” type vocals). The songs have their own delicate nuances of feeling. Lyrics explore the disdain for reality TV, social commentary on media information & misinformation. The somewhat breathy vocals lend an air of authenticity. Though none are vintage tunes many of these originals are played with the maturity that suggests these songs could’ve been around for decades. Borderline Bluegrass classics.

“My Hometown,” is a slow dark haunting track with more aggressive vocals & exquisite banjo/mandolin drive. Quite cool. Like nothing else on the collection. Sounds like a tune the Oyster Band or Spirit of the West would’ve written. One of the more easily hummable of all “Paddlewheels,” is quite catchy.

The only thing missing in this aggregation is some fiddle work – ala the late legendary John Hartford. That would’ve been a nice touch since I’m sure old John would’ve loved playing with these gentlemen.

Closing out the LP is a 9-minute barn burner never dull instrumental “Clamp’s Chute.” An intricately woven tapestry of driving strings plucked, strummed, picked & added to the deep-dish bass of Dom Fisher. Completely acoustic & chiming beautifully. If Bluegrass had a jazz cousin this would be it. Brilliant stuff.

The 41-minute CD was produced by Wood & Wire with Pat Manske.

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