Two brothers decide to form a band, adapting the blues, folk and other roots‐music sounds they loved as kids into their own evocative sound and twining their voices in the sort of high‐lonesome harmony blend for which sibling singers are often renowned.
While that’s not a terribly unusual story, the Wood Brothers took a twisty path to their ultimate collaboration. Indeed, they pursued separate projects for some 15 years before joining forces.
Smoke Ring Halo (Southern Ground), the duo’s third full‐length album – their musical chemistry has never felt more profound. Oliver Wood (guitar, vocals) and Chris Wood (bass, vocals, harmonica) refine their rich, spacious sound on songs like the rousing opener “Mary Anna,” the back‐porch‐funky “Shoofly Pie,” the waltz‐time plaint “Pay Attention,” the elegiac title track, the gospel‐inflected “Made It Up the Mountain” and more.
With supple assistance from drummer Tyler Greenwell and a fleet of gifted guest players – not to mention Grammy‐nominated producer‐engineer‐mixer Jim Scott (Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, Lucinda Williams) – the brothers simmer, swing and soar, shifting moods and time signatures with aplomb. As ever, Oliver’s lived‐in, expressive voice and urgent fretwork bounce off Chris’ propulsive stand‐up bass lines, in‐the‐pocket harmonies and ghostly harmonica phrases. But this time Chris contributed some lead vocals, displaying a startlingly pure tone on the dreamy “The Shore” and the slide‐spiced “Rainbow.”