Every once in a while, in the greater bluegrass world, you come across a new album that sounds fresh and feels good and that is the case for the new release Flyin’ High by The Wooks.
Based out of Lexington, KY, and Nashville, the Wooks are made up of bluegrass veteran CJ Cain on guitar and vocals, Harry Clark on mandolin, George Guthrie on banjo and Allen Cooke on resonator guitar. I have been keen to see what new music will come out of the COVID-19 pandemic period. With many musicians holed up during lock down and live gigs being far and few between, a lot of musicians made music at home or collaborated via live streaming internet and that has led to some rather introspective music being made, which is a predictable result of isolation.
When I heard the first single by The Wooks from their new album, which was the title cut “Flyin’ High,” I was impressed from the first notes. After listening to the cut extensively, which was accompanied by a very inventive animated video, I heard references in the lyrics to the Licking River and more, based on Cain’s section of the Bluegrass State. After spending many years in southern Ohio across the mighty Ohio River from that part of Kentucky, I picked up on the name of those regional references and appreciated them. ‘Write about what you know,’ is the sage old quote, and that is what Cain did with this single.
Other bright-sounding and imaginative true-life songs on this album include “What The Rocks Don’t Know,” an unusual-yet-fun road trippin’ tune, the outdoor-summertime romp “Mudfish Momma,” the rollicking new instrumental “Madison Chimes,” “New Peace of Mind,” about leaving the city for life in the mountains, and the fiddle-enhanced “Little While,” which is an uplifting song about finding the positive while trying to move forward during a hard life.
The Wooks have experienced a few lineup changes since they won the Rockygrass band contest in 2016, but now they have stumbled across what seems like a fun and impressive combination of pickers who are on the same page. This album has a real John Hartford feel to it, as in following the late legend’s penchant for getting out and experiencing life, being empathic as to the lives led by those you meet, and then write about it. The end result is your next awesome road trip album Flyin’ High. Time to press play and hit the highway.