Album Review: Woody Pines – Self Titled
Stop what you’re doing and click play on Woody Pines. He sounds like a countrified Pokey Lafarge. It’s that Justin Townes Earle style with a standup bass and fiddle behind him. It might be tempting to call Woody Pines a “vintage” act, but really he’s as fresh as the springtime and there’s no “act” here at all. This is the real freaking deal.
The opening track “Anything for Love” has that great swagger and swing to it that is characteristic of Woody’s style. Beyond that, the lyrics are hilarious. It’s a sort of heart-sick simplicity that many people can connect with. The song is adventurous, a little bit old timey, but still really feels high quality and crisp in its sound. I smile every time.
“Junco Partner” has a great beat to it. It’s danceable and makes you really want to move. Beyond that, though, it’s just fun. The song is about planting a “reefer farm.” There’s a kind of innocent fun about the way Pines writes. He really sounds like a much earlier Woody, but fused with some kind of Jimmy Buffett-esque “devil may care” outlook, rather than the activist bent of Woody Guthrie.
“Little Stella Blue” might be my favorite on the album, not because the other tracks are bad, but just because this one is so pure it its style. I especially find the stripped down bass line and clear backing electric guitars to sound sweet. The lyrics are delivered with a different kind of subtlety than the rest of the album, which is quite endearing. It reminds me of some of Roger Miller’s old time seemingly-silly lyrics. It’s so beautiful, though, the quizzical lyrics are still nice.
According to Woody’s PR materials, he really has experience hopping trains (yes, recently). Because of that background, the ethos of “When the Train Rolls By” seems believable. This is not shtick or a show. This is a little bit of emotional metaphor and a whole lot of beautiful encounter with difficult life.
“New Nashville Boogie” is, well, a boogie. It’s the kind of jam that would do Chuck Berry and his contemporaries proud. The guitars are every bit the fulfillment of the “rockabilly” moniker. This is a dance song pure and simple. Every honky tonk in Nashvegas should be spinnin’ this one.
“Without my walking stick I’d go insane…” is the opening line from “Walking Stick,” a strangely mesmerizing uptempo jam. The swing on this one is tangible. And the instrumental solos are the best on the album. This one is tailormade for Frenchman Street. Speaking of the deep south, “Delta Bound” brings a completely different southern flavor. It’s Mississippi Blues in the purest sense. The bluesy configuration and authentic vocals work together smoothly.
“Black Rat Swing” goes back to the uptempo feeling of “Walking Stick” and “New Nash.” It’s about a defunct relationship, using the metaphor of a rat beautifully. It really harkens to a songwriting style from a bygone era. And it’s hilarious. The last track “Worth the Wait” is a totally different sound, highlighting more of Woody Pines’ stylish acoustic flavor. “Then we sing to free our pain… brothers and sisters far and wide… have a drink with me tonight… let us toast to our friends, angels and ghosts then make amends… from heart to heart let’s make a stand.” It’s an exceptional parting song about doing our best, trying to be better people, and allowing love to be the difference. It reminds me of the Wood Brothers’ excellent album from a year back.
The talent of Woody Pines is undeniable. He’s already an icon, to me, in his ability to spin these classic musical styles in so many interesting ways. Who would think that rockabilly and old blues sounds could feel so fresh, exciting, and relevant in the 21st century? The reason the album works so well is that Pines is the genuine article. It’s evident in each lick, lyric, and line of the album. This is a must listen for followers of this blog. Keep your ears out for Woody Pines because this is a phenomenal album.