Marathon Music Works Nashville, TN 1/11/13 with Trevor Smith, Dom Fisher, Matt Slusher, Tony Kamel
Austin-based bluegrass stringband Wood & Wire comes out the gate hard and fast with their debut, self-titled album. Like a chattering tommy gun, Trevor Smith’s rapid-fire banjo picking explodes from his strings, opening the album with one heck of a bang. It’s bluegrass, but with a heavy twang; Monroe-inspired tradition that owes a near equal dose of love to songwriters like Robert Plant, Willie Nelson, or Texas songwriters like Robert Earl Keen and Billy Joe Shaver.
The opening song, “Mexico,” is so strong and self-assured that you’ll find yourself wondering where these kids came from. The tale of a convict on the run, “Mexico” unfolds like a Tarantino grindhouse flick, the first sign of many on this album that Wood & Wire have found a way to take the same incendiary spark of bluegrass that first put the music on the map back in the late 1940s and channel it into a sound for a new generation.
Their debut album available on iTunes has a wide variety of songs–and some tunes too! The material ranges from the historical (“Coal Mining One” is set in 1940s Kentucky) to the heartbreaking (“Setting the World on Fire”) to the humorous (the raucous “Rollin’ in the Washingtons” takes a less-than-sober look at the financial situations–or lack thereof–of touring bluegrass musicians who have a taste for liquor and an eye for the ladies). Tight, three-part harmonies, sprightly mandolin, and rolling banjo keep the band’s sound grassy, while contemporary flourishes, like the cutting-edge arrangements and contemporary subject matter, speak to the group’s diverse backgrounds and far-flung musical influences.