12 tracks / 53:03
Tim Woods grew up in Pennsylvania and lives there these days, but the time that he lived in Macon, Georgia has left an indelible imprint upon his music. Woods is a fine guitarist, singer and songwriter, and the influence of the American south is easy to pick out of his blues-rock style. Tim has recorded a few discs over the years and has earned the respect of his peers, which was proven by his induction into the New York Blues Hall of Fame. He plays out as a solo artist and with his band, as well as with his two sons in The Woods Family Band. Tim Woods certainly does get around, and after many decades in the business this man knows exactly what he is doing.
Woods’ new solo release, Human Race, was recorded in Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale, and was produced by Tim’s friend, Bobby Lee Rodgers, who also contributed guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards to the mix. For his part, Tim played guitar, provided the vocals, and wrote all but one of the dozen tracks. This duo did most of the heavy lifting, but a few other fellows joined in, including Pete Lavezzoli and William Newell Bate on drums, and Don Coffman on the upright bass. This album is full of lyrics of hope and brotherhood, and all of them are set to a lovely mixture of rock, southern rock, blues, and even funk.
Most reviews include any mention of instrumentals after an in-depth discussion of the conventional songs, but the three instruments-only tracks on Human Race are quite compelling. “Step” is pretty much a funky bass solo with heavy guitar riffs and dry-sounding drums laid over the top of it, complete with Led-Zeppelin like stereo guitar layers. Then there is “TW Funk,” which uses even more funk and some sweet organ from Rodgers to augment killer solo work from Woods. And lastly, “Trixie” uses surf guitar leads over a funky Latin beat that is driven by Lavezzoli’s drumming. There is a lot of funk going on here!
The regular songs are all very good too. The nostalgic opener, “Can You Feel it?” is a nice chunk of 1970s blues-rock with Robin Trower-like leads and vocals with plenty of echo. Next up is the very catchy “Every Day” which carries an empowered message that is accompanied by layers of acoustic guitar from Tim and a fat walking bass line from Rodgers. And the title track includes an array of killer guitar tones over a 1960s rock beat, while “Human Race” features some solid grooves from Rodgers on the drums and vocals that channel the long-lost Jim Morrison.
There is only one track that was not written by Woods and that is “Black Maria,” which was penned by Tim’s longtime friend, Perry Warner. This tune is a semi-ballad that is a curious hybrid of Southern rock and rhythm and blues, and in this case there is more emphasis on Tim’s voice than on the instruments (all of this works out well, in case you were wondering).
The album ends as strongly as it begins with “Where Did She Go?” and “Leave the Earth Alone.” The former is a heavy blues piece that allows Woods to take his voice to its limit, and there is a cool Hendrix vibe to his rhythm guitar work. The latter is the fabulous closer that reminds us to take care of the world we were given, as we are not going to get another one.
Human Race is a pleasant break from everyday life, courtesy of Tim Woods and his friends. You can hear samples from this release at Woods’ website, and while you are there be sure to look over his gig schedule. If you are going to be in Pennsylvania (or Maryland) any time soon you might be able to catch Tim with the duo or the Woods Family Band, and that would surely be a treat!