Wooden Wand: Death Seat

RIYL: Acoustic Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits

Wooden Wand’s latest, Death Seat, is a collection of acoustic dirges that recall long nights sitting around drinking, maybe on the front porch with the fireflies flickering up the night, or maybe in a dank bar somewhere in the sticks, where the beer is a little flat and the whiskey has a cheap bite.

Singer, songwriter James Jackson Toth, aka Wooden Wand, has a voice reminiscent of a young Mick Jagger. It has that darkness and snarl we all fell in love with the first time we heard the Stones. The songs Toth has written for Death Seat are soaked in folk and the blues, giving the album the feeling of something recorded 40 years ago, not 2010.

The highlight of the album is “Bobby,” a pained ballad that reflects on a friend who’s left this world too soon. It’s a haunting song that will stir up remorse for anyone who has lost a friend this way.  Songs like “I Made You” and “Servant to Blues” are spooky numbers, while “I Wanna Make a Difference” is a soulful confession between the protagonist and a lover or a family member.

If you’re a fan of Springsteen’s Nebraska or Johnny Cash’s American recordings, sparse albums full of dark storytelling, Death Seat falls in that same territory. It’s not the kind of album you throw on in the middle of a house party. However, once the guests have left and everyone is winding down, Death Seat has the kind of late night coolness that feels just right. (Young God 2010)

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