Proving that a creative upbringing often yields wonderful results, stand two talented blues and folk rockmusicians, Oliver and Chris Wood. With their drummer Jano Rix, they’re The Woods Brothers, and they’ve been touring hard and producing classic blues-infused Americana for the past 12 years.
Although officially a Nashville-based band, with their most successful album The Muse recorded in Southern Ground Studios, a lot of the band’s influences can actually be traced back to Boulder, Colo. That’s where the siblings grew up, and were first exposed to American roots music via acoustic guitar sessions around the campfire with their father. Their mother, meanwhile, was a poet and instilled in the boys a passion for storytelling and powerful messages hidden amidst song lyrics.
The brothers split up and had separate music careers. Oliver began performing with the Atlanta blues outfit King Johnson, while Chris formed his own jazz jam group Medeski Martin & Wood. But the brothers reunited in 2006 and developed the special musical chemistry that only two brothers with great voices can with their debut album The Muse. They’ve been touring all over the country ever since, and just released a new album called Paradise which serves as another testament to their evocative sound and high-lonesome harmonies.
The Wood’s Brothers have adapted the heartache of the American West and the blues that they grew up with, to achieve their own crisp sound that packs an emotional punch.
The Wood Brothers have often dealt with themes that are an intoxicating blend of light and dark elements, and with Paradise, which drops Oct. 2, they feature songs like “Singin’ To Strangers,” and “Never and Always,” which touch on this duality and desire for human connection. Themes of salvation, sin, loneliness, faith and a yearning for peace permeate the album. Even the album cover, featuring a sad looking donkey staring at a carrot on a stick, is symbolic of this universally human emotion; we all long for something. The album flows in a thought provoking, dreamy wind-down manner and makes you realize that American heartache and the American dream are often reached at the same time.
"The American dream is alive and well, but comes with side effects," Oliver told Rolling Stone. "Our culture cultivates the feeling that you can never have enough. It's a tragic luxury and a modern version of desire that was invented here along with blues, jazz, rock & roll, football, 24-hour news and 'free' market capitalism. The song is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but pathetically true."
Although melancholic, Paradise is also the brothers’ most rocking collaboration yet, and it deals with these heavy topics with forceful grooves and a soulful purpose.
The Woods Brother are bringing their profound tunes to the State Theatre on Sunday alongside Gill Landry of the Old Crow Medicine Show.
The Wood Brothers with Gill Landry | Sunday, Oct. 4;
doors: 7:00pm/show: 8:00pm | www.statetheatreportland.com