The Wood Brothers will be returning to the Proud Larrys’ stage after their first visit two years ago, touring their fifth studio album, Paradise. The folk trio, which has been on the festival circuit since 2006 and has played on the biggest stages in America, came out with their newest album last October and has received acclaim from critics, pushing and blending the boundaries of roots folk and southern rock.
The group recently moved to Nashville and recorded this album at Easy Eye Studios, owned by The Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach. This is the eighth studio album between brothers Chris and Oliver Wood, who also work with Medeski, Martin & Wood and King Johnson respectively, but the accomplished sibling musicians still managed to accomplish a few firsts on this album. Along with recording with Auerbach for the first time, this album also includes the Wood Brothers’ first studio recording with Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. It’s also the first time Chris, a world-class stand-up bassist, plugged in an electric bass for a Wood Brother’s recording, and the first time the brothers wrote an album together, in person, instead of living in different cities.
This album of firsts for the band is matched by an evolving sound, a tinge of rock adding to the anthology of soulful roots and Americana that has defined the band for a decade. Lead singer and guitarist Oliver Wood attributes this new layer of sound to their evolution as a band, the experiences they have gained playing in changing venues for larger crowds. “The acoustic stuff from earlier in our career was what we really leaned towards as songwriters, and its always fun to play our earlier stuff in smaller venues, but it doesn’t always play the same to larger crowds, we really wanted to write songs that would work for both. We always want to hold onto that acoustic style. You just build on your sound, add to what you can do.”
Wood said that recording at Easy Eye Studios was a great experience, “like a playground, a musicians dream really; instruments, amps all around, and you can use any of them to record. They’ve got a really great sound engineer, it was really just a great environment to work in.” Recording with Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks was something the band thought up in the middle of production. “Once we laid down the track (“Never and Always”) we felt it would be a good one to add their sound to. I’ve known Susan and Derek for 25 years now and we’ve crossed paths many times, we’ve opened for them and have a great relationship with them. I see no reason why we wouldn’t work more with them in the future.”
The Wood Brothers are known for improvisation and energy in their live performances, and each show can be unique. “Our percussionist, Jano Rix, plays a shuitar; its basically a crappy old guitar turned into a drumset, he also plays piano and organ. My brother, Chris, is a world-class stand-up bassist, playing a different style than you’re probably used to. And we like to play songs differently live, change a little every time we perform so its different every time from the studio version.”