Spring tends to be one of the strangest times of year; though the excitement of warm weather starts to take over ones mind, the frigid bitterness of winter continues to linger in the not so distant past. And while the years' first instance of happiness and sunshine may temporarily brighten our spirits, it is too often interrupted by that oh-so disheartening rain cloud that ultimately reminds us that summer is not quite here yet. With Light and With Love
, the latest album from Brooklyn folk-rockers Woods, is the perfect antidote for such seasonal confusion. Through its tasteful combination of upbeat folk songs and southern rock jams, the band's sixth album strengthens ones urge to experience nature.
The album opens with the fantastically reminiscent "Shepherd"; an alternative folk ballad with hints of southern twang. With a Gene Clark melody and lo-fi vocals, "Shepherd" completely modernizes the styles of early American folk music, ultimately making it "cool" again (thank God). An old-timey piano builds the song's foundation with the help of subtle acoustic strumming and the soft whimpering of a slide guitar. A staple in the upcoming summer's campfire playlist through its solemn yet uplifting melodic qualities, "Shepherd" sounds like the beginning of a great night.
Though they are notorious for their lo-fi folk rock sound, Woods showcases their diversity on With Light and With Love
through the experimentation of new genres. This musical venture is made most apparent on the album's title track. An uncharacteristically long song lasting just over nine minutes, "With Light and With Love" sees the band hitting a much jazzier, psychedelic sound. The heavy crashing of cymbals and a persistently groovy bass line provide the perfect platform for a spontaneously distorted guitar solo, adding to the songs unmistakable 1970's feel. If not for the familiar lulls and cries of lead singer Jeremy Earl, this psychedelic jam session could easily be mistaken for that of another band.
Woods continues their travel through time on the album's sixth track "Leaves Like Glass". Within the opening moments of the song, one cannot help but acknowledge the strong Garth Hudson-like organs and compare it to that of Bob Dylan and The Band. As Earl asks, "When this passes by, is it enough to unwind?" the classic rock sound of electric guitar battles with the whimsical swirling of the organ for the song's lead role. Despite being somewhat of a departure from their usual sound, "Leaves Like Glass" truly depicts the band in its finest form.
If you're not impressed by the band's ability to diversify itself on With Light and With Love
, you will be won over by their ability to perfect their already successful method of songwriting. From the soft harmonies of "Moving To the Left" to the lo-fi melodies of "New Light", Woods have created their most taut album to-date. The album's eighth track, "Full Moon" is all the evidence needed to defend such a statement; whether it's the songs open-ended lyricism that Earl has become so well known for, its infectiously catchy folk melody, or its outdoorsy feel (you can almost smell the wood burning as it plays), "Full Moon" perfectly defines Woods as a band, and With Light and With Love
as a whole.
Continuing their habit of producing solid album after solid album, Woods have once again raised the alternative folk bar. By fusing breezy folk anthems with nostalgic psych-rock jams, Woods have not only showcased their creativity and diversity as a band, but have also created 2014's first real summer album, even if it is a few months early.
With Light and With Love
is out now on Woodsist. Get your copy here