The Wood Brothers seem to have navigated a typical path leading to a colorfully rooted folk catalog—musically-inclined parents, numerous fruitless bands—but their music is anything but the clichéd wispy, wandering-in-the-mountaintops indie. Two brothers, Colorado natives, formed a band to steep their love for folk in a kettle of smoky blues and crisp R&B beats. While this path seemed obvious to outsiders—the two musically-inclined brothers took 15 years in pursuit of other projects before they joined forces and braved this road together.
With the recent release of their third studio album, Smoke Ring Halo, the musical and biological bond between the two have never been more obvious. The Wood Brothers reinvented old favorites and slapped on some percussive flesh to new compositions with the help of drummer Jano Rix. They explore a richer sound, with full-bodied combinations and elegiac attention to detail, a transition that engulfed the tiny confines of Lincoln Hall. Toying with Americana alchemy—a dash of blues here, a sprinkle of folk there—the set was perfectly enjoyable but failed to make a lasting impression after the nods of approval and chipper applause.
With Oliver Wood’s slight R&B inclinations and Chris Wood’s classical jazz training, The Wood Brothers have met somewhere in the middle, a happy medium they explored throughout the lengthy set. The duo wove a flurry of new songs into a foundation of old favorites drenched in traditional Americana themes and delicate instrumentation. All anchored by firm rooting in American roots music and maintaining an attention to detail owed to their musically inclined molecular biologist father.
The cramped stage of Lincoln Hall seemed perfectly suited for the trio’s naturally intimate sound. From campfire hymns to dirt road hums, each song transported the audience to an America of yesteryear. The trio wasted no time in breaking out gospel-tinged, “Atlas,” a track from 2006’s Ways Not To Lose.
Wood acquired a lightly preachy tone, which kept listeners at a generous arms length. The crisp bass breaks were enjoyable and added some substantial power to the song.
“Shoofly Pie” boasted a loose twang reminiscent of early Citizen Cope and relaxed mannerisms that mirrored the organic tone of The Wood Brothers’ style. While an authentic illustration of Southern comfort, the song occasionally touched in the comically hokey. Recognizing the impending theatricality of the set, the brothers reeled back into their comforting vocal threshold.
“Postcards from Hell” was a charming change of pace with a reeling Tallest Man on Earth-inspired acoustic guitar riff. Wood’s campground anthem delivery drew the audience closer and pulled them into the field of wheat and arpeggios that the Woods seem to have inhabited. A song that would typically be written off as yet another hokey folk ditty gained depth with swinging keyboard melody and a glib refrain, “And if you ask him how he sings his blues so well, he says I got a soul that I won’t sell, and I don’t read postcards from hell.” “Luckiest Man” worked the Avett Brothers family vibe without straying into the overly sentimental or regretfully hokey.
The casualness of the brothers’ deliveries during the whole set seemed so off-the-cuff, it seemed hard to belief they hadn’t pulled the relaxing tunes out of their back pocket to take flight in the tiny stage. While The Wood Brothers’ compositions were heartwarming and original, the trio occasionally seemed to parody their own genre with overblown delivery and excitable melodies. Regardless of any regrettable falters, the audience was still transported to a wheat fields and crackling fires, an experience that was relished while not necessarily remembered.