Al Wood & The Woodsmen – Hooka Train | Album Review

Al Wood & The WoodsmenHooka Train

Self-Release – 2017

9 tracks; 37 minutes

This is the third album release from Canadians Al Wood & The Woodsmen who made it to the IBC semi-finals in 2011. Al wrote all the material, sings and plays harmonica with support from guitarist Lindsay Pugh, bassist Frank Deresti and drummer Simon Meilleur; recording engineer Marty Sobb adds some additional guitar to one track. The CD was recorded in Ottawa and produced by Al and the band.

Opener “Lately Things” bounces along and immediately demonstrates Al’s easy way with a lyric, in this case a tale of a relationship coming to an end, Lindsay’s rhythm guitar underpinning a wide-ranging harp solo before embarking on a short solo of his own. “Mole Hill Mountain Blues” has slide and harp and rocks along well as Al threatens to “climb up Mole Hill Mountain and scream these crazy blues” before the rhythm section sets a great train rhythm on the title track and Al gives us his best Johnny Cash impression; the song seems to be about smoking illegal substances rather than other possible interpretations of the title! Al’s harp and Lindsay’s guitar are both prominent on the mid-paced rolling blues of “Death Defying Leaps”, a song that extols listeners to make the most of things as it won’t last. “Bluebird” is an interesting tune with fast rhythms and the bass playing some jazzy underpinnings that are taken up by Lindsay’s angular solo before Al’s country blues style harp. A Delta feel comes across on “Juggler’s Blues” – “the worst blues I have known – you’re always second guessing, throwing lines up in the air”, Al blowing a storm over some nice slide work. The band gets a little funky on “Certain Ways” and hits a soulful groove on “Stick Around (Another Day)” before closing with a back porch acoustic blues “Worryin’ Days Are Done” as Al sings of passing the torch to his son – not the most upbeat note on which to finish but well played.

This is a CD that does not bring anything particularly new to the table but is a solid listen, well played and recorded.

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