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Wooden Wand, Blood Oaths of the New Blues (Fire)

The back roads of American music are filled with mavericks who are as wilfully prolific as they are generally obscure.

To the likes of Howe Gelb, Robert Pollard and Will Oldham, now add the name of James Jackson Toth.

Across a decade of collaborations, proper albums and self-released cassettes and CD-Rs, Toth has been understandably difficult to pin down. But the Wooden Wand band that began to coalesce around him on last year's terrific Briarwood finds further structure here.

Toth called that earlier album the sound of "Saturday night revelry" and this his "Sunday morning wake and bake".

In musical terms, that means it takes a much looser attitude to song length (ranging from 1.24 to 11.48) and style, jamming the blues in low-key modern Americana mood, turning up some great songs along the way.

Briarwood is probably the best place to begin a trip through Toth's canon, but Blood Oaths, as it rolls through gentler swells, is a nice way to enter into the new year.

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