Tom Rodwell – Wood & Waste: Album Review

Tom Rodwell showcases a multitude of styles in a new collection that’s a tribute to his commitment to making and recording music in a natural way.

tom rodwell

Release date: 22nd October 2021

Label: Fireplace Recordings

Format: CD / LP / digital

Recorded on 2″ tape and boasting a full analogue production, even extending to using The Who’s old Neve console, Wood & Waste is a lesson in the old ways. A bit like those old Queen albums where they used to proudly declare “no synthesizers!

Singer-guitarist Tom Rodwell, (known to many as frontman for Auckland arthouse blues institution Storehouse and itinerant session man for the likes of Don McGlashan) transforms skeletal song structures into something termed “fleshy and feverish, melding together outlandish influences with both improvisation and minimalist, dream-logic songwriting.

The effect is striking – and immediate! The Don’t Be A Fugitive All Your Life is in at the deep end in kicking off nine ‘tight but loose’ (to coin a phrase) ragged and earthy songs with a real live groove that’s stirringly upfront. A similar live feel pervades the material as Rodwell implores to be touched like a teddy bear all the while accompanied by some back to basics bottleneck slide. Two brilliant tracks that provide evidence for the defence of analogue vs digital. And anyone under the impression that we’re in for a torrid journey of raw blues (however exciting that may be) had best be prepared for a deviation from that rustic charm.

Keep On Knockin’ sees the shift in mood that’s a little cooler, with an underlying hint of the familiar Bo Diddley guitar sound captured perfectly and Plenty Time veers into calypso rhumba territory to provide a partner for She Got Me Boiling rather than exist like Billy No Mates as a standalone curio. Driven by Rodwell’s trademark bass-heavy and frankly dirty guitar, the animated carnival drums could be straight from The Lion King or some Disney theme park parade and not NZ free improv notorieties Chris O’Connor and Jeff Henderson, it’s an irresistible piece of music.

The variety keeps on comin’ as we get a soul and funk drenched Small Town as Make Believe and Carry On go all Jack Johnson smooth musak inducing an inevitable a cha-cha-cha shuffle, perfect food for bobbing about on a yacht on a calm blue Mediterranean. Any thoughts of the rustic charm we’d been seduced by earlier on in proceedings have disappeared for the moment into a reel of tape.

In one last hurrah, any Spotify users might enjoy the lo-fi Pay Me My Money Down shuffle that cements the easy philosophy while encouraging us to “stay in the house and drink good rum.” Can’t argue with that.

Here’s the Wood & Waste ‘megamix’ video:

Tom Rodwell online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube / other

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