This excellent record plays with structure, but it never forgets a sweet melody, a heartfelt line -- the things that draw us in and win us over.
Woodsy Pride's new album Live at the All Hands House both expands on and sharpens the strengths from their excellent 2010 EP. This is all new material, recorded live -- it's the first in a series of records like this All Hands Electric will produce -- and the band's spacious, swampy rock songs are performed with a vital charge. The wandering, seven-minute "All For My Love" is a stunning opener, with shuffling drums and open-tuned guitars selling the song's workaday fatigue. In fact, the whole record mines this blue-collar heartache, where often, on tunes like "Reason on My Mind", singer Bill Augustus pits money against happiness. "Buying records is a sin," he groans, "when I cannot pay my rent." He then assures us, "It's money well spent," and behind him we hear faint hope in music that's spacious without being slack, thoughtful but delivered from the gut. Uriah Therealt doesn't craft hooks with his guitar so much as he circles them, coiling them up as he goes, while John Studer moves over the kit with the intuition and complexity of a jazz drummer. This music is loose and wide open. It melts at the edges and never loses its shape. And while it plays with structure, it never forgets a sweet melody, a heartfelt line -- the things that draw us in and win us over. Go pick this one up.