Siblings, particularly older ones, and parents often seem to have a huge influence on how an artists’ musical leanings will develop…mercifully mine didn’t! (Otherwise I would be listening to Klaus Wunderlicht (my Dad) or Cliff Richard (my sister)). In the case of Tim Woods, his elder brothers gave him rock, blues and jazz; the blues won out and he became enamoured with the songs and, importantly, the song writing of Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. After over thirty years performing in jam-bands, with the Woods Family Band and solo. Tim has a fascinating method of playing the guitar as he was taught by Ernie Hawkins, a disciple of the Reverend Gary Davis style of finger picking, which take it from a woeful guitarist like me, is bloody difficult. Tim has developed this further by how he uses his thumb to play rhythm while it, and the rest of his fingers play lead; so a lot of what may sound like overdubs are not. His style and blues influences are varied but the Allman Brothers, Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green era) and the Grateful Dead all spring to mind when I listen.
The follow up to 2018 album Human Race (reviewed here on Bluesdoodles), is indeed a Vortex and, apparently, to quote Tim:
“The ten original tracks explore the idea that ‘vortices’ are swirling centres of energy, conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration located in places where the earth seems especially alive with energy”.
That doesn’t mean it’s a self-indulgent morass as his style and approach bring a mix of elements (as usual) so expect lots of blues rock, some funk, some more rock, a bit of prog, some more blues rock and some blues to this themed, rather than concept album. It came out back in October but disappeared under a crowded and unruly desk but now I can shed some light.
Opening with Ready, is a fine blues rock song with Tim singing and playing a storm while Rodgers does everything else with enviable skill…the guitar solo or duet is full of ingenuity and not a note out of place with some added bends and sustain to bring a touch of drama. the title track, Vortex, has a Floydian hint or two, but remains accessible and benefits from a quality solo.
A move to funky blues next with Some Of Your Love with nice use of the wah on barred chords while the picking is first class behind the lyrics and on the very clever solo. The bass is also noteworthy as it pins the complex rhythm down for the rest to build around. Next track, Sometimes, flirts with country and the acoustic work is stunning behind the vocals and the nicely toned electric phrasing and solo make for great listening.
The instrumental Sage struts quietly with acoustic strums and subtle keys before the guitar and organ play with the melody and then the solo speaks more than words could have…some prog elements infuse the sound and the Nazareth like riff revolves through the whole structure rather neatly. I Don’t Know Yet is a solid shuffle with all twelve bars celebrated…numerous and catchy lyrics interspersed with some lovely electric phrases and a bouncy solo of real skill.
Take Me Away is a ballad where the acoustic strumming builds the tension; then the electric solo is just that…just a bit too short for me. Destination Unknown had me fearful at first as a slight of hint of Bono’s band was there; that quickly changed as the the organ and piano joined in and it turns into a bluesy song which includes some neat piano from Mr Hornsby.
This Mess is a rolling barroom blues that will get you tapping along and has a humorous way of offering good advice… “get up in the morning, get up out of bed, things could be worse, well you could be dead, get yourself together, get your feet on the floor, you haven’t done enough, you could do some more”. The central guitar section isn’t a solo in the traditional sense but has so much depth, it warrants lots of listens.
Finally we reach, Water Is Life, every time I hear it makes me think of Nazareth again; particularly their ‘off-piste’ second album, Exercises…regardless this sort of pop crossed rock crossed prog is actually a delight.
In summary, Tim has once again served up a collection of skilfully written and performed songs that blend genres seamlessly and always entertain.
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws: A Wonderful and varied blues based album with added rock but always skilful playing.
3. Some Of Your Love
6. I Don’t Know Yet
7. Take Me Away
8. Destination Unknown
9. This Mess
10. Water Is Life
Tim Woods: guitar, vocals
Bobby Lee Rodgers: guitar, keyboards, bass, drums
Derek and Ryan Woods: vocals
Paul Hornsby: piano
(iTunes was kind enough to remind me of the quality blues rock band Tin Pan Alley and (from 2003) Blues Is A Feeling…it most certainly is!)