Wooden Wand is certainly an intriguing artist. James Jackson Toth manages to combine Americana, folk and elements of prog rock seamlessly to create mesmerising, insightful music. This latest release, Blood Oaths of the New Blues, carries on in this same uniquely brilliant tradition. The opening, ‘No Bed for Beatle Wand/Days This Long’ is a slowburner, with a lengthy yet intriguing introduction eventually giving way to Toth’s effortlessly cool vocals and wonderfully poetic storytelling.
One thing that is so refreshing about this record is the simplicity of the music. It would have been so easy for Toth to create a dense musical accompaniment for his lyrics, but the sparseness he has opted for allows the stunning poetry to shine through. ‘Outsider Blues’ is the perfect example of this, telling the story of two lovers on a fiery road trip. Humorous, yet heart-rending, it makes for one of the highlights of the album.
After two epic numbers come two short, sweet songs in ‘Dungeon of Irons’ and ‘Supermoon (The Sounding Line)’. Glittered by thought-provoking lyrics, words such as “Do the innocent die differently from the guilty?” strike a deep chord with the listener.
One thing that may go against this record is the risk of it beginning to sound over-indulgent. However, this is simply a matter of opinion and I personally think it to enhance the listening experience. My personal favourite on the album is the brilliant South Colorado Song. Intense and heavy, you are swallowed up by the thoughtfulness of the words and swept away with the haunting melodies.
Wooden Wand has certainly pulled it out of the bag again. Unrelenting, provocative and romantic, Blood Oaths of the New Blues is a brilliant addition to anybody’s music collection who loves folk with a twist.
Words: Carly Goodman