Kingdom In My Mind
Oh the things we tell ourselves. Kingdom In My Mind is the latest album release by The Wood Brothers. This is the seventh studio release by the band, and it is marvelously experimental. As favorite on mine, a Wood Brothers’ live show is captivating. For the band to have captured that spontaneity in a studio production, is purely lightning in a bottle. “Everyone has these kingdoms in their minds, and the songs on this album all explore the ways we find peace in them,” says the band’s bassist Chris Wood. That balance of darkness and light is at the heart of Kingdom In My Mind.
The spontaneous “live” feel of the album can be attributed to the recording process. The Wood Brothers were trying out their new Nashville studio. Like kids in a candy store, the commerce of making an album were not part of the original recordings, the boys just simply played. They were improvising, reacting to each other, and following the muse. It was all about capturing the sounds and the feel of the rooms within the studio. It wasn’t until they hit playback that the spontaneity revealed itself. Chris worked the jams into verse, chorus, bridge, and solo. The band then divided up the tracks by choosing the arrangements that spoke to them, and independently wrote lyrics. This process worked well for their buddy Seth Walker, (who’s album, “Are You Open” was produced by Jano Rix), and I have no doubt these two albums spun from the same sessions.
In writing independently, and in following the muse through its course, the individual charm that is The Wood Brothers were given spotlight. Chris Wood brings a wild eclectic styling steeped in jazz and R&B first realized in his early work with the groundbreaking trio, Medeski Martin & Wood. Oliver Wood came from a place of blues and gospel with an affinity for Latin and African music. Jano Rix is a drummer with a passion for jazz piano.
The album plays like a well choreographed mix tape. The songs skirt the edges of any box the industry might want to place them. The songs of “Kingdom In My Mind” are an eclectic mix of groove, funky synthesized keyboard, all with a jazz sensibility found in the songs “Alabaster” and “Little Blue”. “Little Bit Sweet” incorporates African rhythms. The slide guitar on “Jitterbug Love” is a modern-day, Delta blues, crossroads Wood Brothers style. The frenetic, “Don’t Think About My Death”, will sonically be a live favorite, whereas lyrically, “Cry Over Nothing” offer words to live by. “Little Bit Broken” has a funky, smooth groove, “Satisfied” is contemplative and bluesy with a New Orleans feel. “The One I Love” with its seemingly simple arrangement utilizing the melodica, grapples with justifying a roving eye. It’s the rock ‘n’ roll piano, slide guitar and deep bass of “A Dream’s A Dream” a song that at times attempts to roll off the track and then regain it’s composure, that is the perfect marriage of all three band mates. It is a song that brings together three each muse. It just might be my favorite.
The Wood Brothers joined with Thistle Farms, a philanthropic organization who’s goal is to help women who have been victims of sex trafficking, prostitution, or addiction to get off the street. The Wood Brothers will donate a portion of ticket sales for all their shows to Thistle Farms. The opening song Alabaster is about a woman who is getting over, starting over, and rising up from whatever cage that bound her. How perfectly fitting,
Kingdom In My Mind is self-produced by The Wood Brothers and all of the songs are written and performed by them with the exception of; Steve Lee who adds backing vocals on “Little Blue”, and C. Long who co-wrote “Satisfied” with the band. These songs on the album explore the myriad of ways we mentally justify our living. It’ll give you something to think about while you dance. Enjoy it! I know I do.
– Viola Krouse