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Jethro Tull - Songs From The Wood CD (album) cover

SONGS FROM THE WOOD

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.16 | 979 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Let me bring you...

Songs From The Wood is a refreshingly calm and upbeat album in a time of turbulence for the band and the entire prog rock community in general. While most bands were trying to accommodate with the barrage of Punk music flowing over the airwaves, Tull decided to take a step back with their acoustic guitar and flute, sit on a stump in the woods and play out some very excellent music.

A very familiar yet very different Tull from the one that fans know so well, this album brings forth all the elements that Tull uses to frequently - that hypnotic flute, that magic minstrel of a voice, that perfect mix of acoustic and electric guitar. One element that does take some getting used to, though are the a-Capella bits which utilize harmonizing voices (the very first thing you hear on the album is one of these, actually) and the addition of hand claps for extra percussion.

Another thing about the album is that every song stands alone. There's no long interlinked suites, no overlying story and even the super short songs stand alone as their own songs instead of acting as intro/outro pieces. The songs are all generally shorter, with a few exceptions - but this is no handicap, as the short songs on this album manage to maintain a very progressive feel while toying with the idea of typical rock but never abusing it. There is an overlying concept with this album however, and that is the feel of spring. This is the theme that Tull uses over the whole album, and it really seems to capture the season with its light and fun feel. It also really does feel like the band has come out of hibernation after their last albums didn't fare so well (even if Minstrel In The Gallery is quite excellent). This concept would be carried on to the next two albums after this (fall and winter respectively) with varied results.

Oddities aside, this album is one of Tull's best. It's likely the album that most capitalizes on their folk feel, every song having melodies very distinct to the genre, but the heavy Tull feel still remains along with the progressive side on the band. A couple of the songs that use this the most (thus making them the album's standouts and some of Tull's best work) are the synth driven Velvet Green and the aggressive story of Hunting Girl - The first of which opens with some very old English sounding keys and guitar while Anderson's voice makes the use of its rise and fall to deliver the song to it's heavy sections. This is likely the darkest sounding of the tracks on the album, making it a very welcome addition and contrast. The latter opens a lot quicker with some very frantic keys and bass, this one more electric sounding as the guitar kicks in and launches the song into motion. Flutes and guitar drive the track as Tull so adequately does as the rhythm and pace makes the song unique and demanding (in a good way) to listen to - To top it all off, it's also backed by a good story.

Not to say the the rest of the album isn't worth mentioning. Songs From The Wood opens the album by setting the tone and heavily hinting as to what the rest of the album is going to sound like while Jack-In-The-Green acts as a strange little fairy-tale to keep things rolling. The Whistler is one of Tull's best songs to sing along to with it's excellent (and upbeat) tempo and chorus while Pibroch (Cap In Hand) slows things down (if only for a moment) to deliver the album's longest track.

One of the album's biggest flaws however, is the addition of one song. Not a bad song by any means, but very out of place (considering the otherwise Spring feel) with the Christmas track Ring Out, Solstice Bells. Still an upbeat and fun track, this one gets kind of annoying with that irritating ''doo-*clap*-*clap* doo-*clap*-*clap* doo-*clap*-*clap*-doo''. The harmonized section at the end is kind of abused as well. This track is (at this moment) mostly just the subject of terribly nit-picking on my part, as I would still love to hear it played on the radio at Christmas time.

This is an album which gets a lot of praise thrown its way, and for a reason. While not easy to get into the first few listens this is definitely one which picks up momentum fast. 4.5 stars really! One weaker track should not discourage anyone who likes their music a little bit old school and/or a little bit relaxing. Tull fans likely have this one already, but it's recommended to them and anyone who likes flute. Y'know what? It's recommended to everyone, this one is an excellent addition.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |

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