Woods – With Light and With Love
The new album by Woods opens with the slow, deliberate and typically haunting sound of a steel guitar. But don’t be fooled. With Light and With Love is an altogether nervous and fidgety affair. A skittery and frenetic-sounding album full of songs with plenty of notes and not much space in between them. It’s an exhausting, but exhilarating listen. The title track is a case in point. At nine-minutes long, it promises the luxury of longueur. And in the hands of someone like Jonathan Wilson, it might just stretch to a couple of laid-back verses and a chorus or two. Here, though, it’s a frantic tour de force with the guitar and percussion fighting it out for first place. In the middle there’s a quick switch of the dial and the solo keyboards allow time to draw breath. But soon it’s back to the race. And when it finishes, the segue into the next song is almost immediate. There’s scarcely any let up. Throughout, the Byrds are the clearest influence. ‘New Light’ wouldn’t be out of place on The Notorious Byrd Brothers and ‘Twin Steps’ contains a nice ‘Eight Miles High’ guitar break. Yet it’s not all Hillman and McGuinn. On ‘Full Moon’ George Harrison’s signature guitar sound is heard gently weeping once again. And on ‘Leaves Like Glass’ there are some fine Al Kooper-like organ sounds. On their new album Woods have pulled off a neat trick. They’re fishing in a pool alongside the likes of Beachwood Sparks, Dawes, and Hiss Golden Messenger. Yet they’re not dependent on the commons for their livelihood. There’s enough invention here, enough genuinely good songs, to ensure an independent existence. It’s hard work, to be sure. But well worth it.