By Ross Jones
While a weighty and uncompromising album, On Your Time does offer an immediate sense of emotional fortitude.
1. The Man From Everywhere
2. Cut The Grass
3. Devil In This Holler
4. Famine Fortune
5. On Your Time
6. You Don't Even Know Who I Am
7. Border Lord
8. Stories To Tell To Myself
9. Broken Down Dam
10. If Not For The Rain
The Steel Woods' last album, 2021's All of Your Stones, was a deeply sorrowful and unintentional parting piece of work, following the untimely passing of their guitarist and co-founder, Jason 'Rowdy' Cope.
Having passed away just before its release, Cope's aura and influence hung heavily across its ten tracks; his tragic and unexpected death moulding the album into a record of finality amid grief and loss.
Two years on, the group are releasing On Your Time; a broadly conceptual record that returns the group to the essence of their formative days, while paying testament to a heavily influential and deeply missed friend.
Where some of their fellow contemporaries, Blackberry Smoke and Whiskey Myers for instance, balance riff-ripping groove setters with more ruminative, tender notions, The Steel Woods have always enjoyed exploring the more weighty, substantial narrative within their work. It's certainly no different with On Your Time, a record that thrives in using a colourful narrative structure to explore something more present and profound.
Sonically, they sound more mature and considered. On 'Cut The Grass', frontman Wes Bayliss' vocal soars in harmony, as he delivers concise advice in amongst conflicting feelings of desire to fight and accepting defeat; "It'll drive you insane if your cup ain't half full / You can't complain and you can't grab the horns by the bull / Life moves too fast to beg, steal or borrow / But if you cut the grass, it'll be short tomorrow". It's powerful; the swaying, uncompromising power of the band accentuating Bayliss' sharp songwriting.
While a weighty and uncompromising album, On Your Time does offer an immediate sense of emotional fortitude, particularly across a candid and raw story like 'You Don't Even Know Who I Am'. But spend even more time with it, and the empathy and solace the band evoke while attempting to find themselves once more will pay incalculable dividends.
The Steel Woods' 2023 album, On Your Time, is out now via Woods Music / Thirty Tigers.
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