The Wood Brothers have announced the release of their next studio album 'Kingdom In My Mind' due January 24 via Honey Jar/Thirty Tigers. The 11-song collection is the band's most spontaneous and experimental work yet. Recorded over a series of freewheeling, improvised sessions, the album is a reckoning with circumstance, mortality, and human nature. The material finds strength in accepting what lies beyond our control as it hones in on the bittersweet beauty that underlies doubt and pain and sadness with vivid character studies and unflinching self-examination. While the lyrics dig deep, the arrangements are buoyant and transportive, drawing from a broad sonic and stylistic spectrum.
"We all have these little kingdoms inside of our minds," says Chris Wood. "And without really planning it out, the songs on this album all ended up exploring that idea in some way or another. They look at the ways we deal with our dreams and our regrets and our fears and our loves. They look at the stories we tell ourselves and the ways we balance the darkness and the light."
On past albums, the band—brothers Oliver and Chris Wood and Jano Rix—would write a batch of songs and then deliberately set out to record them, but when it came to making 'Kingdom In My Mind,' they began the process without even realizing it. At the time, the trio thought they were simply breaking in their new Nashville recording studio/rehearsal space, tracking a series of extended instrumental jam sessions as a way to test drive the facility.
"If we had known we were making a record, we probably would have been too self-conscious to play what we played," reflects Chris. "At the time, we just thought we were jamming to break in our new studio, so we felt free to explore all these different ways of playing together without worrying about form or structure. It was liberating."
"We weren't performing songs," continues Oliver. "We were just improvising and letting the music dictate everything. Somebody would start playing, and then we'd all jump into the groove with them and see where it went. Normally when recording, you're thinking about your parts and your performances, but with these sessions, we were just reacting to each other and having fun in the moment."
After listening back, the trio realized there was something undeniably alive and uninhibited in what they captured. So, like a sculptor chipping away at a block of marble, Chris took the sprawling improvisations and carefully chiseled out verses and choruses and bridges and solos until distinctive songs began to take shape. From there, the brothers divvied up the material that spoke to them most, penning lyrics both separately and together as they pondered what it takes to know contentment in our chaotic and confusing world.
The jaunty "Little Bit Sweet," which was born from the band's very first session, learns to appreciate the ups and downs in the circle of life, while the soulful "Cry Over Nothing" and hypnotic "Little Blue" playfully meditate on ego and perspective, and the funky "Little Bit Broken" celebrates the imperfections that make us human. Tracks like the bluesy "A Dream's A Dream" and hypnotic "Don’t Think About My Death," grapple with separating truth from fiction, ultimately coming to terms with the fact that our brains will always find new ways to blur those lines. Though the album advocates for acceptance, it's not a passive brand The Wood Brothers sing about, but rather one rooted in strength and empowerment. To understand exactly what that means, look no further than album opener "Alabaster" (premiered today by Rolling Stone Country) which paints a deeply empathetic portrait of a woman who's broken free from the shackles of her old life and started over fresh.
"At the same time we were making this album, we were looking for some sort of philanthropic organization we could support with our music," explains Oliver, “and in a bit of synchronicity, we came across this great group called Thistle Farms, which was based just down the street from our studio. Their goal is to help women who have been victims of prostitution or addiction to get off the street and into safe housing where they can participate in therapy and job training. The work they were doing was so inspiring and it felt like such a fit with the kind of album we were writing that we teamed up with them to donate a portion of ticket sales from all our shows. It's our way of using what we’ve got to do whatever good we can in the world."
More than anything, it's the recognition that we've all been dealt our own particular hand of cards and life is in the way we play them, that defines 'Kingdom In My Mind.' As Oliver sings on the captivating "Satisfied," which finds its narrator wondering about the glories of the afterlife before ultimately deciding to make the most of his time on Earth, "I've got nothing left to be afraid of / Because I will be satisfied."
The Wood Brothers are currently on the road through the remainder of the year with shows across the Midwest, South Central states and Colorado. In late January, they'll launch the first leg of their 'Kingdom in My Mind' tour that makes stops in the Northeast, including two nights at Webster Hall in New York City and then dips into the Southeast highlighted by a hometown show at The Ryman in Nashville.
'Kingdom In My Mind' follows The Wood Brothers' most recent studio release, 2018's 'One Drop Of Truth,' which hit #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart and garnered the band their first GRAMMY Award-nomination for "Best Americana Album." NPR praised the record's “unexpected changes and kaleidoscopic array of influences," while Uncut hailed its "virtuosic performances and subtly evocative lyrics," and Blurt proclaimed it "a career-defining album." The record racked up roughly 8 million streams on Spotify alone, and the band took the album on the road for extensive tour dates in the US and Europe, including their first-ever headline performance at Red Rocks, two nights at San Francisco's legendary Fillmore (captured on their 2019 release, 'Live At The Fillmore'), and festival appearances everywhere from Bonnaroo to XPoNential.
2. Little Bit Sweet
3. Jitterbug Love
4. Cry Over Nothing
5. Don't Thing About My Death
6. Little Bit Broken
7. The One I Love
8. Little Blue
9. A Dream's A Dream
11. Little Blue (Reprise)
10/25 - Placerville, CA - Hangtown Music Festival
11/7 - Roanoke, VA - Shaftman Performance Hall ^
11/8 - Highlands, NC - Highlands Food & Wine Festival ^
11/9 - Louisville, KY - Headliners Music Hall ^
11/10 - Cincinnati, OH - Taft Theatre ^
11/12 - St. Louis, MO - The Pageant ^
11/13 - Kansas City, MO - The Truman ^
11/14 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue ^
11/15 - Madison, WI - Barrymore Theatre ^
11/16 - Indianapolis, IN - The Vogue ^
12/3 - Baton Rouge, LA - Manship Theatre ^^
12/4 - Houston, TX - The Heights Theater ^^
12/5 - Austin, TX - Paramount Theatre ^^
12/6 - Dallas, TX - The Kessler Theater ^^
12/7 - Tulsa, OK - Cain's Ballroom ^^
12/9 - Omaha, NE - Slowdown ^^
12/11 - Aspen, CO - Belly Up Aspen ^^
12/12 - Steamboat Springs, CO - Strings Music Festival
12/13 - Boulder, CO - Boulder Theater ^^
12/14 - Boulder, CO - Boulder Theater ^^
12/15 - Breckenridge, CO - Riverwalk Center ^^
1/29 - Baltimore, MD - Ram's Head Live
1/30 - New York, NY - Webster Hall
1/31 - New York, NY - Webster Hall
2/1 - Philadelphia, PA - The Fillmore
2/3 - Toronto, Canada - Mod Club Theatre
2/5 - Rochester, NY - Kodak Center
2/6 - Burlington, VT - Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
2/7 - New Haven, CT - College Street Music Hall
2/8 - Albany, NY - Palace Theatre
2/9 - State College, PA - The State Theatre
2/11 - McKees Rocks, PA - Roxian Theatre
2/12 - Richmond, VA - The National
2/13 - Chattanooga, TN - Walker Theatre
2/14 - Nashville, TN - The Ryman
2/27 - 3/1 - Punta Cana, DR - Avett Brothers at the Beach
^ w/ Nicole Atkins
^^ w/ Katie Pruitt