On their previous album (2011's The Place I Left Behind), prairie roots-rockers the Deep Dark Woods produced themselves for the first time. Here, they made a smart move by recruiting acclaimed Californian producer/musician Jonathan Wilson (Father John Misty, Dawes). They holed up in a rural Alberta cabin, with Wilson helping add a rich aural resonance to the now distinctive DDW sound.
If you played “Miles and Miles,” the opening song from Deep Dark Woods’ newest album Jubilee on your CD player or dialed it up on your iPod and thought you were listening to a recently discovered Neil Young and Crazy Horse recording from the early ‘70s, you could be excused for your error. The fuzzy guitar tones, yearning bass line and ambient feedback that cushion the hurting and pure vocals suggest the kind of warmth and spaciousness of Young’s earliest and most vulnerable work. The Saskatoon-based outfit’s fifth album was produced by Jonathan Wilson of Father John Misty and was largely recorded live off the floor in a remote cabin near Bragg Creek, Alberta.
Some of the pre-release comments on the Deep Dark Woods' fifth album, Jubilee, which was produced by California neo-folk revivalist Jonathan Wilson, hinted that the Saskatoon, Canada-based band had taken a hard left turn into psychedelic folk fuzz guitar territory, but that's hardly the case. Jubilee continues in the melancholy part-country, part-folk narrative shoes of its predecessors, full of foggy, mysterious soundscapes and lyrics that always seem full of loss, pain, and regret no matter how lead vocalist Ryan Boldt sings them. It's not a psychedelic album, even if it's full of instruments like the novachord, the celesta, the vibraphone, and the Mellotron, most of these played by organist and keyboardist Geoff Hilhorst -- they all blend into the Deep Dark Woods' late-night, empty-barroom sound.
I have a mental picture, while listening to the Deep Dark Woods new album Jubilee, of the band sitting in a smoky, semi-darkened wood paneled room. They’re in a log cabin somewhere, dusty sunlight slanting through a curtained window while a record player spins the Smithsonian Folkways collection and records by the Band. An air of stately melancholy hangs over the picture.With Jubilee, Canadian band the Deep Dark Woods appear to be trying to emulate the folksongs of the “old, weird America” (as music scribe Greil Marcus referred to the stark, often strange folk songs of America’s past) in a similar style to what Bob Dylan and the Band accomplished on The Basement Tapes over 40 years ago.
For their fifth album, and their first with new guitarist Clayton Linthicum (a youthful stalwart of Saskatoon’s alt-country scene) The Deep Dark Woods took themselves to an Alberta cabin under the Rocky Mountains. Producer Jonathan Wilson of the Laurel Canyon folk massive, and engineer Bryce Gonzales, joined them to capture a spacious, live sound that sets a jangly, trance-ey mood for what may prove to be their best album yet – one that for the first time succeeds in capturing something of the improvisatory quality of their live sound over its hour or so duration. Opener “Miles and Miles” declares a new direction from previous work, and features the not-often-heard-enough voice of Chris Mason – with it’s natural ethereal and geeky quality – being mixed low and lost sounding in a psychedelic soundscape that is immediately attractive and intriguing – fuzzy guitars and keyboards combining to create a sound like the old Deep Dark Woods but acidly, psychedelically different.