Release Date: Jan 8, 2013
Record label: Fire Records
Genre(s): Country, Americana, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk
Coming off the ragged roots rock fury of 2011's Briarwood, the ever-prolific James Jackson Toth, aka Wooden Wand, drops the volume and gets deeper into his own skull, twisting through barebones personal stories and conceptual Americana head trips on the sprawling Blood Oaths of the New Blues. Toth has tried on lots of different outfits over the course of Wooden Wand's various incarnations, and Blood Oaths recalls the somber isolation and pastoral moodiness of the earliest solo recordings. While Toth is ably backed by the same band that made Briarwood such a high-powered affair, his brooding story-song lyrics and gruff vocal presence are the central focus of every track.
Longtime fans of Wooden Wand forsook consistency long ago, if they ever expected any at the start: During the last decade, James Jackson Toth has used that handle and variations on it to release a mountain of barely compatible material, from the wild-eyed incantations of his often-knotty early work with Wooden Wand & the Vanishing Voice to the outlaw country ignominy of Born Bad, released simply and defiantly as WAND. He traveled to the very fringes of what’s been dubiously dubbed freak-folk on Buck Dharma, and he settled in for hearthside romanticism and wanderlust on 2010’s Michael Gira-produced Death Seat. During his very brief tenure with Ryko, and under his given name, he experimented with the role of refined ringleader, guiding players like Nels Cline, John Dieterich, and Carla Bozulich through crackling, generally concise and great rock tunes.
Wooden WandBlood Oaths of the New Blues[Fire Records; 2013]By Joshua Pickard; January 10, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetJames Jackson Toth is an astonishingly prolific artist. At last “unofficial” count, under his various musical monikers, he has in circulation upwards of 100 releases in various shapes and sizes and formats. So it should come as no surprise to his fans that he starts out this year with yet another record under his Wooden Wand alias.
James Jackson Toth is both reliable and impossible to predict. His heart-worn tunes always evoke the dark dust of country or the solitary keen of folk music, but he drifts from the more wide-open experiments of earlier records to the straight-ahead heartbreak of the excellent Death Seat to last year’s boozy barroom stomp Briarwood. That album was a more approachable, even charming, side of Toth’s songwriting, bringing some players in to beef up his songs while still maintaining their solitary core.
On ‘Let It All In’’s intimate opening track ‘Bullets’, we find John Bramwell in contemplative mood, feeling isolated and neurotic. Yet as the song unfurls you can feel a gentle optimism seeping through.It seems to encapsulate what I Am Kloot are about. It took them five albums and the release of their enthralling ‘Sky At Night’ to gain the recognition many within the industry thought should have been theirs.
Dom La Nena Dominique Pinto, who calls herself Dom La Nena (“Dom the little girl”), joins the sorority of whisperers that includes singers like Juana Molina, Hope Sandoval and Jane Birkin, for whom Ms. Pinto played cello on tour before she started her own album, “Ela” (Six Degrees). Born in Brazil, Dom La Nena grew up in France and Argentina before settling in France, and her songwriting instincts draw on both chanteuse reserve and the Brazilian quality of wistful longing called saudade.