Rarely if ever does a complete body of work focused on universal truths of existential pain – moving forward from someone who’s no good for you, the bittersweet experience of growing up, the process in letting go of concern over things we cannot change, and finding peace in the inevitability of one’s own death – never tip into sadness. Part of this is the almost bubbly arrangements of music treading lightly above the Blues and passing through almost too many influences to name. The rest lies in fearless messaging. The combination is Kingdom In My Mind, the seventh full-length effort from The Wood Brothers, a record constructed of sermons of perpetual uplift as if a record could be a church in and of itself.
What began almost unintentionally as a jam exploration of their new Nashville studio, these free sessions with engineer Brook Sutton formed building blocks then whittled into 10 stories of individual life on earth. “We weren’t performing songs,” explains Oliver Wood. “We were just improvising and letting the music dictate everything. Normally when you’re recording, you’re thinking about your parts and your performances, but with these sessions, we were just reacting to each other and having fun in the moment.”
It’s not hard to imagine the ease in which brothers from different musical planes, Oliver and Chris Wood, improvise and explore in equal measures. Joined by drummer and multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix, the trio work forward from vast histories in Folk, Jazz, and beyond. In this instance, they took the jam pieces resonating most with each and wrote songs in consideration of their moments in time as individuals.
“Everyone has these little kingdoms in their minds,” says Chris Wood, “and the songs on this album all explore the ways we find peace in them. They look at how we deal with our dreams and our regrets and our fears and our loves. They look at the stories we tell ourselves and the ways we balance the darkness and the light.”
Oliver Wood considered 2018’s Grammy nominated One Drop of Truth to be “the freest album we’ve done, the most independent album we’ve done,” so it will not be a surprise for history to repeat given the comparable nature of Kingdom In My Mind. Singles “Alabaster” and “Little Bit Sweet” are out now and ready to pick us up and move us along and enjoy within our own individual kingdoms, as almost half of the reporting panel has already done.
Photo by Alysse Gafkjen