March 8, 2022 by 1888media
Southern intentions set for northern exposure.
Armed with a repertoire of harmony filled traditional and original music, Oklahoma City’s Wood Willow, featuring Joel Parks (vocals/guitar) and Becca Herrod (vocals/mandolin), faithfully brings old time sounds into the present.
Musically, the group can best be described as “a dynamic hybrid that falls somewhere between Gillian Welch and The White Stripes” [Tinnitist]. Parks explains, “I’ve found that genres can kind of be misleading. In every genre, there is incredible music and terrible attempts so when starting out we tried to give people a more tangible depiction of our sound and energy.
Our acoustic instrumentation makes the Gillian Welch comparison easier for people to understand but we like to add a bit of angst and attitude into songs that call for it so we felt like we were channeling a more raw and raucous filled duo like the White Stripes.”
Though a modern amalgam of styles, bluegrass music is at the core of it all as Parks plays banjo for traditional bluegrass outfit Steelwind, which is led by Joel’s brother, Blake. Herrod, also a member, adds harmonies and mandolin.
In demand on the circuit, the 6-pc group has performed throughout the region including at the Walnut Valley Festival in Kansas and the 42nd Annual Western Hills Bluegrass Festival at Sequoyah State Park in Wagoner, OK.
The pair met in the fall of 2018 at the Oklahoma’s International Bluegrass Festival, and immediately bonded quickly playing music together all the time. Soon thereafter, Parks had a dream about seeing a lady in a crowded sidewalk with a t-shirt on that said “Wood” on the front and “Willow” on the back. The dream became reality.
With the name and vision in place, the pair added bassist Lucas Gillette, who’s played music with Parks for the past 15 years including a decade as a part of the Brit-pop-flavored rock band Ripple Green.
To introduce the new incarnation, Parks and Herrod released two singles as Wood Willow in 2021, the mellifluous confectionary, “All That I Need” and the soaring, harmony-rich, open-hearted plains of “Every Day,” which sounds like an unearthed collab between 1960s Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner.
For their full-length debut, ‘Southern Intentions’ (arrives worldwide April 22), the soon-to-be-married pair brought Grammy-nominated producer Wes Sharon into the fold. Acclaimed for his work with John Fullbright, Parker Millsap and Turnpike Troubadours, Sharon allowed the natural chemistry to fully blossom while adding an expert touch, bringing the mix right to the forefront.
On the title track, the tides rise, the willows buggy-whip, the harmonies soar sky high. On lead single, “So Much Runnin’,” listeners hop aboard the wide open plains of a universal destination, jubilation. Its boisterous chorus screams indie folk, its underlying grit, part hug, part kiss, its motor, a spatial state of bliss.
“So Much Runnin’ is a song that sonically blends our bluegrass roots with our rebellious nature. Lyrically, it loosely depicts a character traveling their life always in search of more only to drown in their own greed. It’s a song pointing out the flaws in the rise and grind culture that the world today seems to idolize,” offers Herrod.
Elsewhere, “No More Close to Heaven,” is an Appalachia-flavored stroll through gospel-inflected fields of gold while “Art Collection,” flexes its late night soul, spreading its boozy/bluesy rock wings. “Birds,” with its pensive tension bubbles with questions, the deliberation of manifestation while “On With the News,” reaffirms one’s faith while seeking spiritual grace.
Tijuana,” with its bustlin’ 2-step rhythm and stacked harmonies rounds out the collection but really brings one back to the beginning, the promise of connection, without pretense.
With videos ready for “Southern Intentions,” shot at 115 Recording Studios, “So Much Runnin’,” filmed in abandoned train cars near the Oklahoma Railway Museum, and the pleasure-inducing “Box O’ Wine,” which travels the party line of revelers as the action is captured by an iPhone affixed to a box of fermented grape juice…not your welch variety, one akin to a seven nation army.
Waveforms, portals. Hearts, vitals. One glorious rush, tidal. 20,000 leagues under the sea, 20 million moonbeams to eternity.
Wood Willow will celebrate the album release in two stages. On April 1st, fans, friends and family will gather at Ponyboy in OKC for the official record release show (Swim Fan opens). A few weeks later, the group will support The Arcadian Wild back at the same establishment.
In May, they’ll be showcasing at the Folk Alliance conference in Kansas City and are barnstorming SXSW for some guerrilla showcases.
3/17-20 – Austin, TX @ SXSW
3/22 – Livestream (Music My Mother Would Not Like)
4/01 – Oklahoma City, OK @ Ponyboy (Album release)
4/23 – Oklahoma City, OK @ Ponyboy (w/ The Arcadian Wild)
5/18-21 – Kansas City, MO @ Folk Alliance
So much runnin’. So much pluckin’. So much hustlin’. Here comes southern intentions. A heavenly bastion. Birds on a wire. Steel wind at their back. Wood Willows to protect from weather that’s inclement.