15 Aug 2022

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Edge Of The Woods - EP Review: Lookin' For Somethin'

05 Aug 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

This six-track EP from West Coast trio Edge of The Woods shows there is still plenty of room in this musical world for well thought out and delivered music with real soul and heart. They bring together folk, alt-blues. Americana and roots in a way that feels so incredibly real and honest. This is deep and rich, powerful yet driven only by acoustic guitar, drums and warm bass (plus a few guests) with everything built on the gravelly baritone of singer Wes James. It is Wes who also provides the guitar, and his partners in crime are Matthew Mahood (bass) and Jarrod Hooper (drums), and I am sure that Matthew cannot be as young as he looks in the cover photo.

The six songs are incredibly diverse, all coming at us from different directions, with Frown Upside Down undoubtedly one of the highlights. This is swamp blues with a real groove and swing, and the only way describe it is as being downright filthy in its mood and tempo. This is where Wes pours emotion into a gravelly performance where his voice feels incredibly broad, and in many ways, this reminds me of classic Dr. John. But contrast that to Eruera, and it is difficult to realise it is from the same band. Sung in Te Reo, this is a tribute to Wes’ friend, Eruera Tuhura Mita, who passed away in 2016 aged just 43. They met at the University of Waikato in 2016, where Eruera would often lead study groups in karakia and whaikorero. This is far more reflective, more pastoral, and thoughtful, leading us in a solemn tribute, saying how much he mourns his friend, who he sees as a chieftain. Matthew and Jarrod stay much more in the background, providing just the right amount of support to ensure that the focus is very much on the vocals. The picked guitar solo on this song is just right, totally in the moment.

There is a delicacy within this EP, yet also a hidden core, and this resonates with the listener who understands this is reality, real music being performed by real musicians with no studio trickery. I can imagine that in concert they are quite a bit rawer, as there is a feeling of the emotion ready to burst through which is probably more palpable when in front of an audience. There is a strong understanding between the guys, and no need to play six notes when just one will do, with everyone prepared to sit back at the right time and dive in at others. This is an incredibly strong debut EP, and I for one am going to be keeping an eye out for more from these in the future.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Edge Of The Woods

Through a combination of folk, alt-blues and roots, Edge Of The Woods weave stories about love, loss and life to create soul-stirring music. Formed on the rugged west coast, below Maunga Taranaki, the shifting landscapes are reflected in their music as they blend genres and grooves to deliver touching ballads, swampy blues, untamed folk, and tellurian roots. Engaging with live audiences is where Edge Of The Woods thrive and deliver their organic sound.

As a trio, the band creates surprising and diverse arrangements combining guitar, bass and drums. Wes James leads the songs on acoustic guitar along with a deep baritone voice that ranges from gravelly rumbles to contemplative crooning. Jarrod Hooper brings a wealth of experience and precision on the drum kit with teasingly tight beats and grooves. Being the youngest member, Matthew Mahood adds an energetic playfulness on the bass guitar to complement the trio.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Edge Of The Woods


Lookin' For Somethin'
Year: 2020
Type: EP

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