Woods Do-Over On “Be All Easy” Reveals A Welcome Impulse

Yesterday we asked the question of whether, with Bend Beyond, it was possible that Woods had peaked.  It was pure speculation, rumination, based not on evidence but the mathematical logic that when you’ve achieved perfection — and we believe that 2012’s Bend Beyond was, in fact, perfect — the odds tilt in favor of the next one being less so.  Which means a decline.

So when we noticed last night that somehow, escaping our attention, Woods had just a week ago released a new single, and that the A-side was a remake of “Be All Easy” from 2011’s Sun and Shade — an album that was good, but not close to perfect — we avidly downloaded it.  We’ve been listening to both the A-side and to the new “God’s Children.”  Here are some quick observations for Woodsheads, or Woodstocks, or whatever we fanatics may be called.

A do-over is always an interesting development among recording artists.  When Alejandro Escovedo recorded “Guilty” on two successive albums, it was clear — seemed clear — that he felt he hadn’t gotten it right the first time.  But Woods’ redo of “Be All Easy” is notable both for the two-year gap between versions (we assume; we know when it was released, but not necessarily when it was re-recorded), and for the softer, more melodic, increasingly Byrdsy, decreasingly edgy production.  Jeremy Earl and his compadres have made a pretty song gorgeous, and that’s not an impulse you’ll see us reject.

But then there is this: we noticed the other night in Portland that it seemed like Earl was singing some songs with slightly less of a pronounced falsetto.  Go listen to “God’s Children.”  It is sung in an ethereal, high voice.  But falsetto? Not really… It bears the same resemblance to Earl’s typical singing as, say, Dean Wareham’s singing in Luna bore to his singing in Galaxie 500.

I don’t know what this means.  And clearly, were Earl to sing on a new album with a lower-registered voice, it would simultaneously render Woods less distinctive, if less freakish.  Would that be a bad thing?  Not based on the results of “God’s Children.”

UPDATE: See below from Woods’ website.  Also, please note we now have the name of the incredible drummer.  Finally, please note that “God’s Children” Is A Kinks song!  All of the above still stands.

LIMITED TO 1,000 COPIES

The recording of these songs serves as a farewell to Rear House, Woods’ home, recording studio, creative refuge and beloved shithole for ten long years.

“God’s Children” is a classic Kinks tune from the soundtrack to the 1971 British film Percy; “Be All, Be Easy,” originally from 2011’s Sun and Shade, was rerecorded to capture the live form that’s taken shape since its original release. Both are the first to feature new drummer, Aaron Neveu.

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