Apr 06, 2011 Web Exclusive
There's an inviting, sweetly shambling air to Death Seat, the latest from James Jackson Toth, otherwise known as Wooden Wand. While it's hardly the feel-good record of the moment, Toth has a gift with an engaging delivery for his scenarios of rough times and fringe living. If Bright Eyes were a bit blearier, Conor Oberst might be moved to make a string of songs like these.
With "Ms. Mowse," you can't help but wonder where Toth spends his free time. He may have left a place behind where you constantly watch your back and don't smile at the characters, but it seems to still be under his skin. And even with "beautiful women and buckets of ice," there's little promise of true uplift to be found in "Hotel Bar."
It's not all darkness and dirt, however. "I Wanna Make a Difference" is earnest and direct, just Toth and his acoustic guitar reaching out to someone who matters. A warm group vibe boosts "Sleepwalking After Midnight" with woozy, sing-along vocals. And with a song such as the fine "Servant To Blues," Toth shows that he's as capable as writing an enduring standard as anyone currently enjoying a higher profile. (www.woodenwand.org)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 9/10