The Wooks are a hard band to nail down, really. I guess you could say that they’re a string band that straddles the gap between traditional bluegrass and progressive jamgrass. However, that really doesn’t do them justice. There’s more to their sound than that. They bring some old-time mountain music, some country, and a little punk rock spirit to their strain of ‘grass. Overall, it’s damn good music.
Flyin’ High, the band’s third full-length studio album, dropped today and I can’t get enough of it. Most music lovers know The Wooks for their live performances. They come together on stage in ways that some bands wish they could nail in a studio. They did their best to bring that incredible live energy to Flyin’ High.
The Wooks – CJ Cain (guitar/vocals) Harry Clark (mandolin/vocals), George Guthrie (banjo/vocals), and Allen Cooke (dobro) traveled to Jake Stargel’s Nashville studio to record Flyin’ High. According to their website, the band cut the entire album in two live sessions. About that, Cain said, “This album has a lot of solos and vocals and all kinds of stuff that’s just the raw take. There’s no click track. We were trying to get that live, that live feeling. So often these days, things are almost auto-tuned and fixed to the point of perfection. We were trying to get away from that.”
The Wooks did exactly what they meant to do when they stepped into the studio.
Standout Tracks from Flyin’ High
The Wooks put together a killer collection of songs here. When spinning Flyin’ High for the first time, it seemed like every song was the best on the record. So, when I tell you that narrowing these down was tough, I mean it.
“What the Rocks Don’t Know”
The album-opener sees The Wooks covering a Willi Carlisle song. I’m a huge fan of Willi as a singer, songwriter, and human being, so this was a treat for me. The band gave this one a killer bluegrass arrangement and picked up the tempo just a little. I was instantly hooked.
Everything about this song feels like old-time mountain music. The Wooks brought claw-hammer banjo, vocal harmonies, and told a story about robbing trains, killing, and running from the law. It’s so good. If you’re a fan of old-time murder ballads, you have to hear this track.
The Wooks’ guitarist and founding member based the album’s title track on two real-life couples from his home state of Kentucky. Sonically, this one blends traditional country music and bluegrass. Lyrically, the song tells two touching love stories. My hat’s off to Chubb & Rose and Pam & Jim Bob for having the kind of love that inspires songs like this.
Final Verdict on The Wooks’ New Album
This is such a great record. CJ Cain said they wanted to capture the live energy of the band and they nailed it. Flyin’ High shows why they’re one of the best string bands out there. The Wooks are incredibly talented musicians but their playing never outshines the stellar songwriting. This record is for fans of bluegrass, jam bands, country music, old-time, or just good music.