The Wood brothers—Oliver (guitarist and vocalist) and Chris (bassist)—debuted an album called “Ways Not To Lose” in 2006. Oliver had been with blues band King Johnson while Chris is a part of the fairly well-known group Medeski, Martin, and Wood. The album was received by NPR and formed the starting point of what would become the followup “Loaded.”Medeski served as both producer as well as artist on a few of the tunes. Other musicians who took part include: singers Amos Lee, Pieta Brown and Frazey Ford, steel guitarist Darick Campbell, violinists David Mansfield and Jennifer Choi, cellist David Eggar, drummers Billy Martin and Kenny Wolleson, and percussionist Donnie McCormick.
The songwriting was an important collaboration between the siblings that served as a primary crafting force behind the meaning of the album. It is easy to hear the roots of blues (New Orleans style) in much of the music. There are a couple of cover tunes though most of the material is original and even the covers have a fresh take to them. The vocal style is a cross between Van Morrison and Jackson Browne. It is mellow acoustic folk rock with a mix of the blues. The first track has a good feel to it—it’s a nice start that established interest in hearing more. A lot of the following material is on the slower side and takes a while to get going. The artists are skilled, the vocals may not be to taste (but is obviously a personal choice), though the album is not over-produced. In fact, many songs seem to lack the “oomph” needed to really get the listener going (as far as the music goes). Listeners that enjoy the “stripped down” feel of Jack Johnson and the like will enjoy it. Track one and eight are the standouts.
Recording is very dry sounding, but pleasant. I’d rate it an A-.
– Brian Bloom