The inimitable singer-songwriter Gordon Wood always manages to gather about him seasoned and aspiring musicians to help capture his unique vision – in the case of this sampler, ten sympatico sidemen, including a number of long-time collaborators familiar with both his live and studio work.
This collection of eight of Wood’s songs, available on CD and online, showcases a characterful artist who happily sails the cross-currents of Americana, blues, rock and even seminal Britpop – from the sub-Beatles excursion (mystery tour?) of And The Sun Will Shine and the evocative Woodstock atmosphere of Out of My Mind, to the rootsy shake ’n’ shuffle of the worldly-wise Long Hard Road (To The Promised Land).
Recorded during the last two decades, these slickly produced tracks (all with videos at YouTube or at gordonwoodmusic.com) demonstrate both versatility and diversity, refreshingly united by an integrity of approach that’s capable of writing over the labels and sustaining lyrics full of neat allusions to Wood’s favoured musical genres.
Except And The Sun Will Shine, which was released as a single, the tracks are taken from three different EPs.
Let’s look at what else we can sample here. Run Johnny Run, an ideal opener, combines spirited, bluesy rock with a rousing country workout featuring banjo, mandolin and fiddle. Midnight Rodeo gives country rock an earthy twist, exemplifying Wood’s artful strengths as a lyricist in a song notable for the sly appeal of its euphemistic theme, and there’s even crafty homage to the Beatles’ ‘Nowhere Man’ in Phil Bird’s mandolin breaks. So Long Blues gives us Wood’s own brand of bruising ‘bluesabilly’, followed by Sweet Angel Eyes which, with its can’t-get-it out-of-your-head hook, driving guitar riff and harmonica backdrop, has the hallmarks of a rock ’n’ roll classic.
Wood’s uncompromising, arresting vocals make you sit up and take notice of the raw emotion, the plaint and the soul power that’s gone into these compositions. Take a look at the Links page on Wood’s website where some of his favourite artists are listed – Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Rolling Stones and the Beatles among them – and you’ll see where he comes from musically and inspirationally, where he got his impeccable credentials.
Better still, listen to this sizzling sampler – perhaps ideally in the ‘twilight hours when shadows fall’ (Graveyard Blues) – and HEAR where he comes from! Loud and clear. - Bob Southern (writer and journalist), May 2021