Wood, Wire and Words are a family band in true good home bluegrass fashion, with husband and wife team David (vocals, guitar and mandolin) and Clare Rozzell (vocals and double bass) joining forces with Clare's father Pat Francis (dobro, mandolin and guitar) to produce their (very) long awaited follow up to 2008's "Riding The Rails". Well it may have been long in the making, but "It's A Barbecue Day" is tangible proof that the best things are well worth waiting for.
Bluegrass music as a whole has been slowly but steadily gaining a wider musical world acceptance and accessibility via acts such as Chatham County Line, Old Crow Medicine Show and Carolina Chocolate Drops who have skilfully blended an element of commerciality into their sound - the purists may argue that this is a bad thing, but anything that raises public awareness of this often ignored genre gets the jazz hands from this reviewer! But at the root of it all are the legends such as Earl Scruggs, The Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, Hank Williams and the Louvin's, that still inspire bands like Wood, Wire and Words.
This Portsmouth-based trio have a very strong, immediately identifiable sound courtesy of David's forthright singing style, which when allied to Clare's more traditional dual harmony voice is a potent and engaging force. And the themes explored on their first release, are taken a little further on this one.
Opener "Take Me For A Ride" is the obligatory 'train / road song' but updated for the 21st century. Written about the bands love of old VW campers (or the 'bluegrass bus' as it has become known), the song is driven along by insistent banjo in real picking fashion but is liberally sprinkled with Pat Francis's magical dobro which is a feature of the album in general. And thereby lies a great deal of the appeal of this band - they are happy to keep the faith with 'their sound'. There are no deviations into commercial territory to compromise an album that essentially sums up their ethos - well written songs, played with passion and no little musical panache.
The metaphorical nature of the songs, all written incidentally by David himself, are often a joy to behold. "Oklahoma Sunset" is a song about love and being satisfied with what you have. There's no point going looking for something when you already have what you need right here and now. A very poignant and powerful image. "Gold In Your Pan" is based on a very similar premise - be happy making a living and enjoy life in the process. As David says "..a worthy ambition I think…".
"Broken Soldier" veers respectfully into political comment territory - and is no worse the wear for it either. The band bemoan, quite rightly, how government have in some cases abandoned those who have served in the Forces to be cared for instead by charities. The sentiment is of course well meant and served up on a bed of wistful dobro alongside Clare's crisp double bass punctuation and David's now trademark vocal.
Forget 2nd album syndrome - "It's A Barbecue Day" has, as a whole, a lovely feel to it. It's warm, well rounded and has an organic atmosphere that is prevalent throughout. It is of course packed full of songs that bear repeated listening and that is of course what the album will finally be judged upon. And with that in mind, Wood Wire and Words can be justifiably proud of their second full album release - let's just hope it doesn't take them another 7 years before the third one comes along!
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