April 12, 2014
With Light And With Love
The last record review I wrote for these guys began with the quote: “Sun and Shade, Woods’ last album made me want to kill myself. Their new one, Bend Beyond, elicits the same knee jerk reaction only this time it makes me wanna take someone with me.” Well, I’ve gotta say that their new one, With Light And With Love, calls for no such mayhem. If anything, the opening track “Shepherd” soothes that suicidal instinct into warm submission and entertains deep thoughts of a long and happy life. Maybe it has something to do with the title, I don’t know.
What I do know is that Woods have been cultivating a powerful tradition of opening their albums with the perfect song. Songs Of Shame had “To Clean” which was a goddamn barn burner. Then, At Echo Lake got immediately down to brass tax with “Blood Dries Darker” and don’t even get me started on Sun And Shade’s “Pushing Onlys.” This time, the lead-off track “Shepherd” welcomes you like a Friday evening on the front porch with yr lover by yr side, a beverage in hand, and a corn-cob pipe filled with whatever makes you smile. The crying slide guitar lead sets the scene for the trip yr about to take and assures you that everything’s gonna be just fine. Relax. Here we go.
Right off the rip you can tell this is going to be a different type of trip. Take “Moving To The Left” for example. It’s the flip side to the sprawling psychedelia that Woods has become synonymous with but just as much a part of their sound. With songs like this, they’re pulling up the weirdo pop that’s always been lurking just below the surface of their murky water music and it’s interesting as hell. This is the first record that wasn’t completely made in singer/guitarist Jeremy Earl’s and multi-instrumentalist Jarvis Taveniere’s living rooms. Gone are the tape collages and fuzzy folk of their early offerings. In their place is a high-fi, freak flag flying, tilted pop record that has the band spreading their wings and jumping off the ledge. They’re on another level now and I say good for them. They’ve been approaching this moment all along and it’s exhilarating to hear what they’ve accomplished by spending the time that these songs demanded in an honest studio with the right engineer. If Bend Beyond was their Lonesome Crowded West than With Light And With Love is their Moon And Antarctica. It’s quiet possibly the best thing they’ve ever done and easily their most realized. You can clearly hear their vision in these 10 songs and it’s 20/20. They’ve finally done it. Buy the ticket, take the ride.
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