In recent years, acoustic/folk-based bands like Mumford & Sons, the Avett Brothers, and the Lumineers, have captured a surprisingly large share of the modern music stage. Not surprisingly, some bands with a more bluegrass edge have eyed that success and seen opportunities to expand their own musical bases beyond traditional audiences to new vistas. Bands like Asheville, N.C.’s Town Mountain, the Infamous Stringdusters, Cadillac Sky, and more have pioneered a high-energy, modernized approach to bluegrass that shows the music growing into new directions.
Another new band taking this tack is Wood & Wire, which hails from the fertile musical breeding ground of Austin, Texas. Taking rock lyric sensibilities and dynamics and applying that edgy, risk-taking sound to bluegrass instrumentation, Wood & Wire presents 13 originals on its debut CD.
“Nowhere And Gone” is a haunting ballad about the musician’s lonely life on the road, where the band is joined by fiddler Brittany Haas. “Settling The World On Fire” has an Eagles-like bounce and turn of the catchy phrase. “Overblown” is an uptempo crowd-pleasure, the kind of tune that would have a crowd on its feet and dancing happily along at SXSW. Technically, the band is skilled on their instruments, but no one here is the kind of player others will want to study and learn from. Same thing with the vocals. They’re pleasant and plaintive, and that’s just what this style of music needs. It’s not for heavy listening, it’s for having a good time and enjoying things for what they are.
Wood & Wire has created a nice first CD, filled with up-tempo, catchy tunes, and pleasant singing and playing. They have a long way to go to reach the musical powerhouse level of bands like the Stringdusters, but this is a good start in that direction if that’s where they aim to be someday. (www.woodandwireband.com.)DJM