Woody Pines taps into the rural backwoods of Americana. On this new EP, You Gotta Roll, you’ll hear backroads folk music of the very best kind, inspired by rough street jugbands, neighborhood BBQs, lost 78’s of old blues singers, dusty 45’s of forgotten rockabilly singles, a faint radio signal you can’t trace and can’t stop listening to; the kind of music you have to travel deep into the country to find.
On You Gotta Roll, Woody and his band rip through five traditional songs from diverse sources. The Dock Boggs classic “Red Rockin’ Chair” gets a somber makeover with acoustic banjo, Leadbelly’s “Ham & Eggs” gets a smooth rockabilly beat, and Hank Williams “Can’t Keep You Off My Mind” and “Treat You Right” from Washington Phillips/Casey Jones both keep the kind of harmonica-fueled swing that made Woody’s name as a street performer. The Woody Pines band includes Zack Pozebanchuck on Upright Bass, Lyon Graulty on Clarinet, Lead Guitar and Vocal Harmonies, Mike Gray on Drums, and Woody on Guitar, Harmonicaand Vocals. Throughout, Woody’s vintage vocals lead the band’s hot accompaniment, sounding at times like a reborn Bill Haley.
This is roots music done hard and fast, with a jump and jive sound you might have heard in the earliest days of rock ‘n roll. It’s music that hasn’t forgotten its old dancehall roots; the kind of music you’d hear at a crowded rent party, as sweaty dancers crashed about a tiny room. On You Gotta Roll, Woody Pines has taken the music that inspired his wanderlust youth and turned it into a living vision of American roots music today.
Perhaps its Moray’s numerous tales of brushes with death on previous recordings that inspired him to use the collective noun for foxes ‘Skulk’ as the title of his latest CD. Or maybe you’ve just seen the series “Whitechapel” on TV? Whatever the reason, his opening choice of song “The Captain’s Apprentice” is a brooding piece of work that would settle comfortably alongside any recording by June Tabor and I certainly applaud the unsettling choice of piano chords on a stark background of saxophone used for its texture rather than as a melody. This really is an unpretentious, Gothic piece of dramatic theatre that wouldn’t sound out of place as the soundtrack to a David Lynch or David Cronenberg movie and will doubtless send shivers down the spine of anyone who purports to have a soul. For this track alone I’d personally give the album a ten but than that would be to dismiss this young man’s ability to turn his hand to more or less any genre of music he cares to utilise for his excursions. He makes no bones that the ‘traditional’ emphasis of his outpourings is his main preference of ingredient but in using a heady mixture of jazz, rock and classical the scatter-gun approach will hopefully expand the confines an audience made-up of primarily ‘folk’ music enthusiasts. This album may not be to everyone’s taste; perhaps a little too maudlin for most but I urge you to think again because any ‘craftsman’ that can make you go straight to your computer to check out the original version of Anais Mitchell’s (www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IOeGyD4zUA) “If It’s True” has done his job superbly well. I’d finally like to credit the tremendous sleeve photos of Sorrel The Fox (held with loving care by Moray) taken by the ever imaginative David Angel. If you’re an animal lover or just love good music you’ll love this recording.