The Wood Brothers didn’t know they were making a record. Looking back, they’re grateful for that. “If we had known, we probably would have been too self-conscious to play what we played,” reflects bassist/vocalist Chris Wood. “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 performing together without worrying about form or structure. It was liberating.”
Recorded live to tape, those freewheeling, improvised sessions became a vast pool of source material from which The Wood Brothers would go on to draw Kingdom In My Mind, their seventh studio release and most spontaneous and experimental collection yet. While on past records, the band—Chris, guitarist/vocalist Oliver Wood, and drummer/keyboardist Jano Rix—would write a large batch of songs and then record them all at once, Kingdom found them retroactively carving tunes out of sprawling instrumental jam sessions like sculptors chipping away at blocks of marble.
A testament to the limitless creativity of the unharnessed mind, the record explores the power of our external surroundings to shape our internal worlds (and vice versa), reckoning with time, mortality, and human nature. The songs here find strength in accepting what lies beyond our control, thoughtfully honing in on the bittersweet beauty that underlies doubt and pain and sadness with vivid character studies and unflinching self-examination. Deep as the lyrics dig, the arrangements always manage to remain buoyant and light, though, drawing from across a broad sonic spectrum to create a transportive, effervescent blend that reflects the trio’s unique place in the modern musical landscape.
“My brother came to this band from the blues and gospel world, and my history was all over the map with jazz and R&B,” says Chris, who first rose to fame with the pioneering trio Medeski Martin & Wood. “The idea for this group has always been to marry our backgrounds, to imagine what might happen if Robert Johnson and Charles Mingus had started a band together.”
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 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.” Tracks from 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.