Using the rare combination of harmonica and upright bass, Chris Wood set a train whistle and click-clack rhythm for his brother Oliver to sing about one man’s attempt to scour the countryside looking for a missing lover. The imagery in “Where My Baby Might Be” is all familiar — killing time, rain, silhouettes, Memphis, a river — yet the assembly is anything but: In just two albums, the Wood Brothers have crafted a newfangled twist on homey blues that possesses skilled but never flashy instrumental perfs, a rich and soothing drawl in the vocals and lyrical themes that suggest they know their way around the outskirts of their hometown Atlanta better than the city center.
Performing as a duo in support of their just released second album, “Loaded” (Blue Note), the Wood Brothers return to the rootsier sound of their debut; it’s all feel-good music. The new album features extra instrumentation, some of which fleshes out tunes and some of which clutters songs, and their perf proved the new work stands up fine in a bare presentation.
“Pray Enough,” the closest they come to straight blues, and the gritty “Postcards From Hell” are engaging story songs, the sorts that some roots-oriented acts use to break up their pop material. This is the Wood Brothers’ bread and butter, acoustic and electric guitar finger-picked and played with a slide and the string bass weaving rhythmic and melodic lines through music that works as well stripped down as it does with added instrumentation.