Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Wood Brothers - Ways Not To Lose (2006)

Chris Wood is best known for his day job as bassist for the avant garde jazz trio Medeski, Martin and Wood. On Ways Not To Lose he takes a subordinate role as he joins his much lesser known brother, Oliver, for an almost all acoustic folk-blues album.

Oliver Wood composed all of the songs himself, or in conjuction with others, including Chris. He plays guitar and sings lead while Chris backs him up on acoustic upright bass and vocals. Except for five of the thirteeen tracks, in which drummer/percsussionist Kenny Wollesen adds his touch, the brothers are the only musicians on the entire CD. The disc is produced by Chris Wood's bandmate, John Medeski, but there is no jazz anywhere, just fine acoustic blues.

Oliver sings in a rough and raw, but not raunchy, voice suitable for the style of music the duo plays here. He has a sad voice that fits the down and out nature of songs that are typical of the mood of most blues. The difference here is that Oliver injects a bit of optimism throughout the CD as the song "Chocolate On My Tongue" proves. While he acknowledges that he may die young it's OK as long as he has experienced some chocolate on his tongue. Even the album's title helps set the tone. While Oliver may not be down and out he doesn't set his goals too high because he lives life trying to find "ways not to lose" instead of finding ways to be a winner.

This CD is more blues than folk. If you are a fan of some of the more earthier folk artists (for some reason John Prine comes to mind) you may be right at home with Ways Not To Lose.

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