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About nine minutes into indie folk-rockers Woods' latest album With Light and With Love, all the reservations I still clung to concerning the band began vanishing, until there were none left and I was simply enjoying a great album.
I was first introduced to the band, whose sound is best described as upbeat folks songs to sing around the campfire with added production value and a dash of rock to make it more sonically interesting, after the release of their 2012 album Bend Beyond.
While I enjoyed that album, I didn't fully embrace it. There were several great melodies that burrowed their way into my brain, but the music itself didn't really shine or come into its own, seeming more like a vehicle for the vocal melodies. Plus the vocals had that same trebly quality that keeps me from enjoying Passion Pit. These factors kept me at arm's length.
This began to change in the sprawling title track, which tops a nine-minute running time on its own and sounds like a spaghetti western soundtrack sped up and raised an octave. That, if you can't tell, is high praise, and the musical accompaniment really shines.
The whole album is peppered with inspired instrumental touches, from the soaring electric guitars of the title track to the beautiful steel guitar twangs in "Shepherd" to the haunting acoustics in the album closer "Feather Man."
The vocals are still a little too high in the mix on several tracks and the trebly effects are still present, but this time around, I had no problem overlooking that. And I can't condemn the vocalist for that, because it's clear he's a competent singer that can carry a melody.
Alas, without that, I'm left with little else to say about the album. It's safe to say that With Light and With Love was solid enough to make me a Woods fan. If you'll excuse me, I'm off to download their earlier albums.