“Lightning in a bottle” – that’s the phrase that’s apt to leap to mind when listening to the latest release from this four-piece Texas-based outfit.
Wood & Wire’s music is infused with a delicious mix of virtuosity, exuberance and youthful bravado.
The band’s lineup features Trevor Smith on banjo and vocals; Dom Fisher on bass and vocals; Tony Kamel on guitar and vocals and Billy Bright on mandolin, mandola, guitar and vocals.
Wood & Wire’s official bio stresses the diversity of the bandmembers’ geographical backgrounds and individual musical influences, which run the gamut from Willie Nelson and J.D. Crowe to Bela Fleck and punk rock.
These disparate influences do crop up now and again in this nine-track collection, which is the follow-up to the band’s 2018 Grammy-nominated North of Despair.
Even so, W&W’s musical bedrock is vintage newgrass bolstered with fiery picking, fine singing and evocative song choices.
In fact, several of these tracks, including the romantic lament “Can’t Keep Up With You” (penned by Billy Bright) bring to my mind images of a young Tim O’Brien backed by the legendary Newgrass Revival band of yesteryear.
The album opens with “John” (also written by Bright), a loping celebration of all the world’s well-intentioned misfits, outsiders and drifters that makes passing reference to Jack Kerouac.
“Pigs” (cowritten by Tony Kamel and Silas Lowe) is a tour de force that heaps well-deserved condemnation on reality TV stars, televangelists and grifting politicians who seek to divide rather than unite us.
“Roadie’s Circle” is a rollicking yet melancholic instrumental tribute composed by Trevor Smith in memory of his late border collie. “Spirit of `94” (written by Jeff Union of the band Ragged Union) is a powerful folk-flavored ballad that offers up a vivid fictional first-hand account of Pennsylvania’s 1794 Whiskey Rebellion.
This album’s title, No Matter Where It Goes From Here, has a tentative ring to it, at least to my ears. Could it concern the band’s future?
Well, that’s doubtful…But if so, I have a rhetorical reply: Based on the aforementioned cuts, along with additional stand-out tracks, I’d say for these guys the sky’s the limit.
REVIEWED BY Bob Allen