Album Review: Talisman by The Woodshedders
Here’s a chance to experience Talisman, the latest album by The Woodshedders, by way of the ears and words of a live music fan, Deadhead, and small-time folk musician. If you’re not familiar with The Woodshedders, they’re a four-piece band from West Virginia with a sound that incorporates vocals, guitar, bass, fiddle, drums, keys, and saxophone. They’ve already released three, original studio albums, and their fourth, Talisman, embodies a quote from their website: “We love all kinds of music, so that’s what kind we play.”
Talisman consists of 10 tracks with the longest track, “Road to Berryvile”, just over 7 minutes, and shortest track, “Diamond Rings”, just under 2 minutes. The total album runtime is just over 40 minutes—so you could breeze through it on a commute to work or while getting some cardio. Whether you play it straight through or put it on shuffle, it won’t make a difference in my opinion, as the songs don’t fit any cohesive pattern or theme. They jump around like moods—so you can decide which mood you want to settle into for the moment. But don’t get too comfortable…
There are two instrumental tracks that immediately appealed to my musical sensibilities as a Deadhead and lover of jams. “23rd of January” is on one side of the instrumental spectrum as a 4-minute fiddle hop, swing bop tune that will instantly lighten your heart. “Road to Berryville” is a 7-minute road trip beginning with a hypnotic bass riff that extends into a psyche-fiddle, saxo-delic journey mellow at times, then frenzied in others but leaves you satisfied. You might even want to put that one on repeat.
What the Folk?
Nowadays, I think the term or genre of “folk music” can be extended beyond what we traditionally reference from the days of Peter Paul & Mary, Woody Guthrie, and the like. So, while songs like “Diamond Rings” and “Honky Tonk Buddy” have a familiar sound akin to folk—with a heavy sounding vocal twang with harmonies and fiddle waltz or the steady giddy up of a country line dance—it’s harder to place some of the other tunes. For example, “Birds” flirts with rock and roll while pulling from the blues, lyrically. “The bees don’t know but the birds understand” is a clever play on an old Willie Dixon blues song “Back Door Man”. In contrast, “Dharma Bums” plays into the world of country pop while its title hearkens back to a Jack Kerouac novel.
All in all, Talisman is friendly and light-hearted and has appeal to a variety of musical inclinations. Check out The Woodshedders by visiting their website: http://www.thewoodshedders.com or following them on Soundcloud, Facebook, and Twitter.