Blood Oathes Of The New Blues is the latest album from James Jackson Toth, AKA Wooden Wand, and it follows on from his more rock and roll offering Briarwood [Spotify]. I'm new to Wooden Wand but this album has a certain atmosphere that means I can imagine it's a suitable follow up.
The press release likens the sound to a Sunday morning 'wake and bake' to the previous album's Saturday night revelry. I'm not entirely sure that nails it - there's certainly an introspective, hung-over and full of self-pity sense to some of Blood Oathes... but much of this album feels like the after-after-party. Tired, bluesy songs for the long-trudge home in the January cold with a gently building sense of sobriety as your only company... Or perhaps it's the inevitable whisky or bourbon nightcap once you finally get there?
The timing of this release is either very fortunate or extremely well-planned, for it's as suited to January as thick coats, warm gloves and cold-remedies. There is a frosty loneliness to Toth's blues. This album isn't as alone as Bon Iver's first, for example, because the country style and additional female vocals lend company, but it is definitely one of cosy mutual consolation more than partying or celebration.
Blood Oathes... isn't just well timed, it also plays well with timing. It's a short album at 42-minutes, but still fits in the foggy 12-minute opener, the gloriously scruffy-yet-somehow-still-glittering two-part 'No Bed For Beatle Wand / Days This Long'. The several longer tracks that appear are offset with a couple of sub-two-minute ones, with album closer 'No Debts' providing a fine sense of closure.
Ultimately Wooden Wand's album succeeds based on Toth's story-telling. The best songs here a little more than a description of those personal moments you experience in the pursuit of living, and how they make you think - 'Outsider Blues' and its tales of car journeys soundtracked by arguments and Sticky Fingers for example. It's simple, but it works. Happy January.