What is your very first thought when listening to the debut effort of an artist that has been treading the borders of the musical trade for 25 years? Well, his fucking done his homework for sure, that’s what! Judge Shawn “Woody” Wood aka Happy Bones is not your regular cosmos kid with computer and some free time at hand. No sir, this dude has been working his craft day by day and year by year…relentlessly. That alone deserves respect, whether or not you appreciate the music.
It’s far too easy today to create and produce music, and then release it worldwide without ever once leaving your bedroom. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but there is a major difference between being shielded behind iTunes and facing your audiences every night. This experience is irreplaceable, and for me, almost mandatory, in forging accomplished artistic spirits able to communicate on any and every level with audiences and listeners, regardless of genre or musical style.
Happy Bones is without a doubt in this latter category. The air of coolheaded confidence that transpires across the tracks of his self-titled debut album is absolutely tangible. “Debut” is almost a dirty word in respect to what Judge Shawn “Woody” Wood and his band bring to the table on Happy Bones. It’s a statement of what the band feels, sees and is able to capture musically.
The instrumental trade-offs are cool on so many levels – the sound, the attitude, the friendship…the way the band joins in and Happy Bones’ acoustic guitar speaks through the spinning rhythms, while his voice creates dynamic and emotional melodies. Add to this the impressive heartfelt and soulful lyrics of a southern bluesman, and you have a unique throwback to the mid-70’s work of such greats as Gregg Allman, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Marshall Tucker Band among many others. But Happy Bones takes it a step further, giving it an acoustic edge while maintaining the free will to jam out. The band mix traditional blues, with folk-rock sensibility and a touch of modern jam band sting, to meld a groove that is irresistible.
The best thing about this album, besides the superb lead vocals, is the display of never-ending craftsmanship of songs by Happy Bones et al. He just keeps coming at you with great-sounding, very original songs! That’s not very easy to do all on one album these days, but then again I suppose 25 years is time enough to put your best foot forward. Tracks such as “Cage”, “Daze”, “Hell Hounds”, “The Crazy One” and “This is Just A Dream”, is reason enough to grab this album if intense and soulful deliveries are your thing. No, they don’t wear “fashionable” clothes. They don’t incorporate the latest “sounds” in their music. They don’t “dance” while singing. They play their own instruments. They put the music first and foremost. And that’s a damn hard road to walk for many “artists”!
Judge Shawn “Woody” Wood provides a tight and powerful foundation to the varying styles on the album “Happy Bones”, which in turn exhibits the musicianship and diversity of this powerful band. The superb musicians on this recording lead the listener down many roads, anticipating better things to come as the work progresses, and hopefully we won’t have to wait another twenty-five years for a sophomore release!