The Wood Brothers 'Live at the Barn': Americana at its finest
Paste Magazine

When you think about ideal venues for the folksy sound of The Wood Brothers, a barn might very well be one of the possibilities that comes to mind. If that is what popped into your head, you are quite possibly prescient. Without question, you are in luck because The Wood Brothers have a new album that was recorded at the Woodstock barn where Levon Helm held his Midnight Ramble.

The tie-in with The Band is fitting for a couple reasons. Like The Band, one of the first things you notice about The Wood Brothers is that it comprises some talented musicians. One of the other things you notice is the harmony vocals, which are immediately noticeable in the lead track "Mary Anna". The tie-in with The Band is also fitting because the chorus of the song is played as a waltz. This song draws you into the album right away and makes you anticipate what is to come.

This band has a real old-time feel to it - even when it doesn't play in a barn. It makes sense then that the band includes a cover of "I Got Loaded", which was originally recorded as an R&B song in 1951. The Wood Brothers make it their own with a catchy beat, a mellow guitar part that suits the theme of the song, and a harmonica part that is a nice accent to the song. When you get to the call-and-response at the end of the song, you almost feel like you were part of the audience in the barn that evening.

When you put this album on, you will definitely hear an Americana album. However, the band also shows it can work a pretty good soul groove with "Tried and Tempted". The organ, in particular, lends a really cool soul vibe to the song. The bass does pretty well in that regard too. If the bass line in this song doesn't get you grooving, it's hard to know what will. "Who the Devil" is another song that works a pretty good soul groove. Not only that, this is a bit more upbeat and loud than the other songs on the album. This apparently is the song that the band used to get the members of the audience up and dancing. Even if you weren't there, you have to be sure that it worked. It's hard to imagine anyone sitting still when hearing this tune.

This is an impressive album. The members of the band will wow you not only with their abilities as musicians but also as vocalists. The harmony vocals bring The Band and Flying Burrito Brothers to mind. The melodies - with layers of sound - also bring The Band to mind. Furthermore it's hard not to think about Jackie Greene and Trigger Hippy when you feel the grooves of some of these songs. Live at The Barn was released by Honey Jar Records/Thirty Tigers on January 13. If you like rootsy Americana music, you will love this album.