Over the last decade and a half, the New York state based Woodsist label, run by the gifted multi instrumentalist Jeremy Earl has been responsible for a chain of superlative releases from his very own Woods, as well as groups such as Moon Duo, Hand Habits, Real Estate, The Woolen Men, Kevin Morby and Skygreen Leopards. Heaven And Holy is the latest in a long line of collaborations between Earl and Leopards’ Glenn Donaldson under the Painted Shrines handle and faultlessly captures the warm down home acoustic jangle and primitive ritualistic percussion which has come to define the Woodsist sound. The pair took inspiration from the soaring atmospherics of The Byrds and most heavily from 'the Dunedin sound' associated with the iconic Flying Nun label.
Even in the inchoate early days of Woods, the sweet coo of founder Jeremy Earl turned his most elliptical lines into ready hooks. But like the collectives Elephant 6 or Lambchop a decade earlier, the amorphous band around Earl treated songs like playhouses, spaces where they might try anything. Harmonies spilled out through a mess of tape hiss; guitar solos curled like question marks.
Jeremy Earl and Glenn Donaldson have a lot in common. Through Woods and Skygreen Leopards both pursue a wavery, hazed over interpretation of classic guitar pop, bending jangle towards mysticism and couching gentle narratives with a faint wistfulness. Earl has a distinctive wispy falsetto that makes his strummed folk sound ghostly, but Donaldson also haunts the ethereal boundaries of guitar pop.