Track By Track | The Wood Brothers – Muse

Today marks the release of The Wood Brothers’ fifth studio album The Muse. It was recorded in the band’s hometown of Nashville, TN and features all the things we love about this band from Oliver’s gritty, heartfelt vocals to Chris and Jano’s spot-on harmonies.

To celebrate the release of Muse, we’ve asked the band to take us on a tour of the album -Track By Track. Read the stories behind and preview each song on the album.

1. Wastin’ My Mind

Somehow this song reveals how we were influenced by The Band. Nothing in particular, just a feeling. It just started with the phrase “Wastin’ My Mind on You” and a riff. We kept messing with it on the road when we had time before sound checks and this is what it turned into. We wanted it to sound full but with no drum kit. Jano is playing the Shuitar. All the songs with Shuitar were recorded live, standing in a tight circle around a tree of microphones in a big room.

2. Neon Tombstone

Chris had a chorus for a song that he played for Oliver. Oliver had lyrics for some verses he had written down that had no home. We put them together and found that they fit together. We heard that Stanley Kubrick made movies like 2001 A Space Odyssey in this way. He combined loosely related segments that didn’t fit perfectly together. It has some mystery because the connection is not explained for you but you feel it.

3. Sing About It

This song is just plain, good advice. I think Oliver has been practicing this for years and is finally telling the rest of us that it’s a good idea! Psychologists use fancy words like “cognitive reappraisal.” Writing a song is the same thing.

4. Honey Jar

This song was originally inspired by a riff that we started playing during a quiet, night time rehearsal after Chris’ daughter went to bed. Jano started playing a beat on Shuitar and we joined in. By the time it was finished it had turned into one of our most rocking tunes. Also, Oliver is obsessed with honey and Chris is obsessed everything it represents. We also like whiskey and maple syrup.

5. The Muse

This song is very personal but universal at the same time. It’s related to the theme of Sing About It but more vulnerable. It had to be spare. No drums. No beat. The music had to follow the fluidity of the words.

6. Keep Me Around

This is another song that was born on a riff and a groove but, unlike “Honey Jar,” it ended up sounding sweeter than its origin. The lyrics and melody relaxed the whole feel. Buddy helped us with that and it made the song speak better. Like “Wastin My Mind” we recorded in a circle around the “mic tree.” You’ve never seen so many beautiful old mics so close together.

7. Sweet Maria

I don’t know if it’s possible to be happy, then experience something so beautiful that you return to your life unhappy. Maybe heroin is an exception but I’ve never tried that. I’ve never experienced anything beautiful that diminished what I already have but it seems possible. This song is a fantasy about that. [“I” refers to Chris here.] The chords and melody to Sweet Maria existed for a long time before the lyrics appeared. The music kind of dictated the theme of the song. The bell like piano you hear has got paper clips and alligator clips on the strings to make it sound like that.

8. I Got Loaded [cover of a Bob Camille song]

We first heard this song from Los Lobos who is a band we grew up with and love. The song goes back to a New Orleans band called L’il Bob and The Lollipops. There is a lot of New Orleans music that has had a big influence on us.

9. Who The Devil

This is one of those songs that didn’t know what it wanted to be on the first go around. We tried to get it together for our last record but couldn’t make it work. Now, we have a couple years of touring with Jano Rix under our belt. We feel like a band. A tune like this needs that in order to work.

10. Losin’

This is a porch dub meditation about the upside of hopelessness. This is the one track where we were able to get Buddy Miller out in the room with us to record on his baritone guitar.

11. Firewater

Oliver was channeling a little bit of Willie in this one. The Red Headed Pill Poppin’ Stranger.

Here’s the current list of Wood Brothers tour dates:

10/06/13 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass -San Francisco, CA
10/11/13 Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre -Charlotte, NC
10/12/13 Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach -Virginia Beach, VA
10/13/13 Jiffy Lube Live -Bristow, VA
10/15/13 Ashland Coffee and Tea -Ashland, VA
10/16/13 Local 506 -Chapel Hill, NC
10/17/13 Ziggy’s By The Sea -Wilmington, NC
10/18/13 The Blind Tiger -Greensboro, NC
10/19/13 Southern Ground Music & Food Festival (South Carolina) at Blackbaud Stadium -Charleston, SC
10/20/13 Orange Peel -Asheville, NC
12/05/13 Chief Theater -Steamboat Springs, CO
12/06/13 Fox Theatre -Boulder, CO
12/07/13 Gothic Theatre -Englewood, CO
12/08/13 Belly Up Aspen -Aspen, CO
12/10/13 Bottleneck -Lawrence, KS
12/11/13 The Vanguard -Tulsa, OK
12/12/13 The Prophet Bar -Dallas, TX
12/13/13 Sam’s Burger Joint -San Antonio, TX
12/14/13 The Parish -Austin, TX
12/15/13 Fitzgerald’s (Upstairs) -Houston, TX