The Wood Brothers: Uniquely American(a)

Written by Preston Barnes - Live & Listen Contributing Writer

With brothers Oliver (guitars, vocals) and Chris (bass, vocals) and multi instrumentalist Jano Rix (drums, shuitar, piano, melodica, backing vocals), The Wood Brothers bring a whole new meaning to the genre, Americana. Mixing elements of jazz, folk, blues, funk, and rock, The Wood brothers have been able to garner fans and listeners across a spectrum of musical tastes. Their brand of Americana draws influences from a variety of styles, a musical melting pot of sorts. Their most recent and critically acclaimed full length album, The Muse, is a testament to their eclectic sound.

Besides the fact that Oliver and Chris have a musical bond that only brothers in life and music can have, the third piece to the puzzle, Rix, has proved to be just as important as the two of them in creating a sound unlike anything out there in music today. Oliver's lead vocals are heartfelt, original, and the beautiful harmonies from Chris and Rix are superbly complementary. Furthermore, the three part harmonies are strengthened by excellent instrumentation. Chris, an accomplished bass player from the renowned jazz group, Medeski, Martin, and Wood, shines throughout the album, while Rix's creativity and ingenuity with a variety of instruments, including the shuitar (a percussion instrument created from an acoustic guitar), infuses the music with tasteful, rhythmic layers. Oliver, who cut his teeth touring with blues guitarist, Tinsley Ellis, before forming his own touring blues group, King Johnson, provides spirited guitar work to accompany his endearing vocals.

Each song on The Muse is lyrically and thematically different than the next, keeping the listener's ears open in curiosity and excitement to see what the next track brings. Transitioning from the lively and thick bluesy number, "Honey Jar", to the beautiful and poetic title track, "The Muse", one can really begin to grasp the musical range, both lyrically and melodically, of this album. Other songs such as the uptempo, "Who the Devil" or the catchy, "Keep Me Around", further display the varying yet uniquely harmonious nature of these songs.

There is such a genuine and earnest nature to this album. The songs are personal, ponderous, reflective, and at times humorous. From one song to the next the listener is confronted with a range of feelings that only such wonderful music can inspire. That's what's so thrilling about their music and a true merit to what music should be: an artistic expression where those who make it and those who listen can join on the common thread that we as humans all share...our ability to reflect, introspect, and look forward. As with all art, the songs provide a great opportunity to interpret as you please.

The Muse, arguably The Wood Brothers' most accomplished album to date, is only their fifth album. Expect more studio work from the trio in the future, but until then you can catch them on tour throughout the U.S. from February thru May. For the more devoted fans you can join The Wood Brothers on a short summer tour through Europe, a tour that only further confirms the extent to which their music has traveled. Check out all that is the Wood Brothers at their official website: