ALBUMS: The Steel Wheels of The Steel Woods
With All Of Your Stones, these Southern rock revivalists share passion with a purpose
Once a sound strictly defined by its regional boundaries — and the early endeavors of bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker and other bands residing in the narrow expanse between Jacksonville Florida and Macon Georgia — Southern Rock quickly became a genre unto itself.
Decades later, it isn’t as easily defined, given the impact on any number of other outfits that have rebranded the stereotypical Southern template — R.E.M., the Black Crowes, Blackberry Smoke, The Georgia Satellites and others whose only real connection to that hallowed heritage is the fact that they hail from the same geographical realms.
The Steel Woods claims the same birthright, and while they haven’t always chosen to capitalize on that connection, it still resides in their DNA courtesy of the group’s gruff good ole boy persona and an obvious affinity for rough and tumble rock and roll which offers no apologies as far as their down-home demeanor.
Artist: Steel Woods
Album: All Of Your Stones
Label: Woods Music
★★★★ (4/5 stars)
Sadly, the band suffered an unexpected tragedy this past January when one of the band’s two founders, Jason “Rowdy” Cope, died suddenly in his sleep. He had his challenges over the years, due in part to a struggle with diabetes, mental health issues and a brief bout with addiction, but by all reports he had put his life back together. At the time of his passing, the band was in the midst of prepping their third album, All Of Your Stones, and one of its songs in particular, the driving and decisive “Out of the Blue,” serves as an apt swan song due to its prophetic lyric:
Given the sad circumstance, the new album takes on a more emphatic meaning overall, which is effectively summed up in the inspirational title track, also penned by Cope, which offers thoughts about turning negative circumstance into a positive experience.
Ultimately, those two songs in particular give All Of Your Stones an uplifting, anthemic ring, underscored by their rugged, resilient sensibility and obvious devotion to populist precepts. They certainly have the grit and gravitas that fans expect from a southern-based band, and songs such as “I Need You,” “You Never Came Home” and the teeming torch song “Run On Ahead” reinforce that notion to a full extent. Yet, while there’s plenty of bluster and bombast at the core of their efforts, they make it a point not to be confined to any particular parameters.
VIDEO: The Steel Woods “All Of Your Stones”
The uptick in energy shared early on through the incisive instrumental “You’re Cold” combines such seemingly unlikely additives as a dirge-like delivery reminiscent of seminal Black Sabbath with a string arrangement that might have served ELO well at the height of their prime. It’s a decided detour from the stereotypical southern sound and yet another indication of the Steel Woods’ determination to avoid falling into any specific nook or niche.
Still, there’s something to be said for carrying on such a well-regarded legacy. That provides one more reason why All Of Your Stones is so rock solid.
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