Kindred spirits: The Waybacks, Railroad Earth
Show: Saturday at Gypsy Sally’s. Show
starts at 8:30 p.m. 202-333-7700. www.gypsysallys.com. $5 in advance,
$8 at the door.
As Americana shape-shifters, the Woodshedders deftly move between various styles of roots music. The five-piece string band first formed out of a weekly gypsy-jazz gig in Harpers Ferry, but on its third album, “Wildfire,” the group reveals a much broader range of influences.
Album opener “Highway” is a pastoral, acoustic folk journey that cruises with dexterous bow work from fiddler Dave Van Deventer. More fluid chops are on display in the newgrass instrumental “Keel Reel,” which showcases nimble-fingered guitar and mandolin runs.
Beyond the tight string work, the most engaging thing about the Woodshedders’s sound is guitarist and lead singer Dwayne Brooke’s versatile vocals. In the alt-country ramble “Two Strings,” Brooke sings with a mellow ache that sounds as if it could have come from Conor Oberst or Okkervil River’s Will Sheff. But when he raises the volume in the swamp-funk stomp of “River Blues,” he stretches his pipes with a raw blues power that might make Robert Plant raise his eyebrows.
There’s more electric charge on the backwoods rocker “O Dig,” but the album rarely stays in one genre for long. “Love Crumbs” has a vintage swing groove and speedy honky-tonk guitar runs, while “Rabbit Hole” delivers a dance-friendly Cajun rhythm. Impressively, it all manages to stay cohesive.