Austin, Texas is known for its music scene – its official slogan is even “The Music Capital of the World.” With the long-running television program Austin City Limits taking place in the city, various types of traditional music have certainly made their mark. However, Austin isn’t necessarily known for its bluegrass scene.
New group, Wood & Wire, is on track to help change that with their debut self-titled release, an Americana-influenced collection of thirteen original contemporary bluegrass songs.
Mexico, a rollicking prison escape song, kicks things off with some fast picking and the repeated phrase “I won’t go” as the singer speeds off to the border. Rambler’s Blues is another upbeat tune which offers a nice take on the traditional bluegrass theme of wandering. Set to a background of solid banjo work from Trevor Smith, it finds the singer questioning his natural inclination to take to the road alone. The band shows off a more progressive sound with another rambling tune, Wandering Wild Road, which has a jam-band feel.
Nowhere & Gone is a traveler’s lament in the style of Americana singer-songwriters, complete with almost spoken vocals and relaxed instrumentation. Setting the World on Fire also has a fairly easygoing sound, although this arrangement works much better with the weary lyrics of the previous song. It’s hard to believe the singer is angry enough at the girl that left him to set the world on fire when the tale is set to a laidback, almost bouncy tune.
The second half of the album is, for the most part, more traditional-sounding than the first. Bet the World is a sweet love song which finds the singer declaring that the world just isn’t right if he’s not with the one who has captured his heart.
The group makes an effort to sound traditional on another track, the familiar-sounding heartbreak number Fool Out of Me, which was recorded live using a single microphone. The effort pays off, as this piece is one of the album’s standout tracks. Another enjoyable song is the amusing Rollin’ in the Washingtons, which will bring a smile to the face of anyone who has ever tried to make a living playing bluegrass music.
Band members Tony Kamel (guitar), Matt Slusher (mandolin), Trevor Smith (banjo), and Dom Fisher (bass), along with special guest Brittany Haas on fiddle, certainly know their way around the ‘wood and wire’ of their instruments. The most traditional bluegrass fans may not enjoy Wood & Wire’s mixture of Texas-style Americana and contemporary bluegrass, but fans of the more progressive side of things will want to check out this up-and-coming group.
For more information, visit the band’s website at www.woodandwireband.com. Their album can be downloaded from iTunes.