They say there’s no such thing as overnight success, but leave it to Wood & Wire to come as close as any band can. Their auspiciously titled offering North Of Despair, released two years ago, garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Bluegrass Album, and now, a mere seven years after their eponymous debut, they can claim a sizable following and the kind of buzz most bands only acquire after several decades of ongoing activity.
Given their assertive stance and the confidence they’ve exhibited even at the outset, there’s little doubt as to why they’ve been able to come so far in such a relatively short time. The band — composed of Trevor Smith (banjo), Billy Bright (mandolin), Dom Fisher (bass), and Tony Kamel (leader singer/guitar) — boast an affinity for bluegrass that would seem to belie their original musical inclinations. Smith is a veteran of several hardcore ensembles, Bright preferred punk, and Fisher earned his degree in jazz.
Nevertheless, inspired by Bill Monroe and the free reign Monroe’s music inspired even early on, the group not only offers a steadfast devotion to bluegrass, but also to the further possibilities it provides. Consequently, the band isn’t afraid to step beyond bluegrass bounds on more than one occasion. It’s a tack they demonstrate decidedly on their latest release, No Matter Where It Goes From Here, while delving into the bluesy designs of Pigs, the nuanced narrative of Spirit of ’94 and the singular strum of Home & The Banjo. These are story songs of sorts, resonating with a dedication and devotion that not only animate each entry, but also find empathy and emotion figuring prominently in the proceedings.
Naturally, there’s no shortage of adept instrumentation either. Roadie’s Circle offers opportunity for a jaunty extended jam, while the down-home designs of Can’t Keep Up suggest there’s no danger of them ever faltering, even if the title indicates otherwise. Melody and musicality find common cause throughout, and one never supersedes the other. The nine tracks included on this album are carefully crafted, from the easy saunter of Paddlewheels to John, the album’s upbeat opener. Indeed, although it’s only nine songs long, the variety and versatility allow every note to count, which means that there’s not a single song that ever seems out of sync.
Suffice it to say, No Matter Where It Goes From Here easily indicates that a favorable future is quite certain and secure.