Chris Wood’s latest album None the Wiser marks an interesting new turn from the well known Kentish folk artist, featuring extensive use of electric guitar and Hammond organ. The resulting sound is a little different to Wood’s previous work but should still be of broad appeal.
The material is inspired largely from Wood’s observations during a recent tour supporting Joan Armatrading which visited 50 towns and cities across the breadth of the country. The result is a blend of socially aware and political themes with more reflective and personal material. The tracks are keenly observed and with trademark wit and cutting satire.
A Whole Life Lived is an entertaining and poignant reflection of changing roles between childhood, adolescence and adulthood, with wry reflections on the son replicating the father’s actions in years past. The whistling finale to this track does feel a little out of place and an odd choice.
In Tally of Salt, the roles of marriage and weddings are considered, the complex lyrics requiring careful listening but very rewarding. Balance is provided from the pleasant and light love song of The Sweetness Game.
Jerusalem is an interesting variation on the famous hymn. In Wood’s version it is stripped of all jingoism and becomes a reflective and much more subtle story, filled with doubt - will Jerusalem in fact be builded here? This may not be to the taste of all with its slow pace and heavy use of Hammond organ but certainly provides a distinctive and original variation.
None the Wiser is a little different from Wood’s previous work but is of real quality, rewarding the attentive listener.Mike Hough
R.U.F release, 1st July 2013
01. None the Wiser
3. The Sweetness Game
4. A Whole Life Lived
5. The Little Carpenter
6. Thou Shalt
7. Tally of Salt
8. I Am
9. The Wolfless Years