Because Wood pours so much of her own story and soul into her music, it may come as a surprise to listeners that she’s actually a very private person. With every song, she crafts a form of art-as-personal-therapy with the hope that she can throw a lifeline to others in the process.
“I think that’s part of the magic of sharing the things we create – whether it’s based on anger, grief, or sorrow,” Wood says. “There’s this hope that it will resonate with everyone else and they’ll feel less alone in their experience.”
Her own experiences were the basis for her 11th album, The Long Road, a project that once again paired Wood with Tyler Fortier (who also produced Wood’s Some Times Love and Spring Tide albums). The album came from a time of deep change in her own life, and once again, she’s crafted a collection of stories that will have listeners nodding in agreement, feeling, healing, and standing back up again right beside her.
Wood’s vision for The Long Road was to craft a studio experience that sounds like a talented group of artists coming together for an extraordinary live performance. She achieves this effect masterfully, working with bassist Milo Fultz, drummer Jeramy Burchett, fiddle-player Anna Tivel, pedal steel guitarist Bryan Daste, and vocalist Ara Lee. Also featured are guitarist Peter Perdichizzi, organist Brandon Bush, pianist Nathan Alef, and vocals by folk/Americana duo Freddy & Francine.
Set for release on November 16th, The Long Road contains a collection of songs that Wood exclusively shared with her fans via her newsletter – one song a month over 12 months.
The songs on the album build on a variety of themes, from breaking free from a busted relationship in “Where I Go” to faith and redemption in “Painted Lines.” Wood’s delivery is warm and intimate; like a close friend, she’s someone with whom listeners feel comfortable opening up their own hearts and memories. Her crisp, crystalline vocals in songs like “One Shot” are sure to garner – as they frequently do – comparisons to Dolly Parton, one of Wood’s inspirations and longtime idols. Given that Wood has spent most of her life writing, performing, and growing, the title track is a stunningly perfect representation of her journey so far.
“Making this album was the fulfillment of a dream from start to finish,” Wood said. “To be able to record at a beautiful studio in my hometown with the people I most wanted to work with; to record live and capture the magic we did in two days and then build upon it; to co-create a vision with my producer Tyler Fortier and then make it come true – all of these things felt like not just the culmination of twenty years of work, but a reward for it.”
Born in Lubbock, Texas, she grew up studying classical music (including piano, harp, violin, and voice). It was a passion that came naturally to her and one that never felt forced. “I never played music or practiced because I had to, but because I wanted to,” she says. “I always had an inner fascination with it and an inner drive to learn. It’s a language that suits my brain and makes me feel at home.”
Wood’s influences were multi-faceted. She experienced a swirl of classical music from her mother, Willie Nelson compliments of her father, and the sound of her brother’s Foreigner, Blue Oyster Cult, and Heart 8-tracks pouring from his bedroom. That last one was important. Wood loved listening to artists like John Denver and Lyle Lovett, but hearing bands like Heart and Fleetwood Mac introduced her to a new concept: one in which female voices were at the forefront of the sound.
Although Wood had written songs and poetry over the years as a form of exploration and self-expression (she’s even published two books of poetry: Ladder to the Light and Kazoo Symphonies), it wasn’t until she was in her 20’s that it occurred to her that being a singer/songwriter was a potential way to make a living. She took the path of so many musicians before her and started playing gigs with friends in noisy bars.
“Writing is about trying to make sense of being human in the world,” Wood says, “and also about taking note of life’s wonder, joy, injustice, complexity.” Her innate ability to stir emotion and connect with listeners took her from the stage in crowded bars to opening for Steve Winwood, Shawn Colvin, Michael MacDonald, Sam Bush, Lizz Wright among others; getting a feature on the nationally-syndicated documentary-style show, “Troubadour, TX;” performing with blues rocker Chris Whitley, and being invited to join the world’s most iconic singer-songwriters as a featured artist in “A Journey Through Song” on Cayamo Cruises. Over the years, the Cayamo roster has included greats such as Keb’ Mo’, Steve Earle, and Lyle Lovett.
To hone her craft, Wood works on the belief that input is just as important as output. That’s why on any given morning, you’ll find her devouring books with her first cup of coffee. The resulting output is a flow of poetry on paper and set to music – emotions and stories delicately woven together in a fashion that only a troubadour can master.
Reading, writing, and music have always been the foundation of Wood’s life – a foundation on which she has built a career that has taken her far and wide and put her working alongside the masters of the musical world. Her winding journey has led to the release of 10 solo albums, a roar of critical acclaim, awards, and devoted fans around the world. She’s been presented with the Kerrville New Folk Award, the Sisters Folk Festival Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Award, and has won the Billboard World Song Contest, among many other honors.
Apart from the new album, Wood has spent time over the past year working on projects that were driven by her core values and inspiration – both personally and musically. In the fall of 2017, she co-wrote and performed “Nasty Woman” with her friend Ara Lee. In the months since, the song and video have become a gritty, bluesy anthem for legions of women seeking a voice in the #MeToo and Trump era.
“‘Nasty Woman” came at a tipping point where we couldn’t be silent anymore,” Wood says. As a woman in society – and especially as a woman working solo in the music industry – she’s passionate about giving women a voice in places where they are frequently questioned or shut down. On August 16, while mourning the passing of Aretha Franklin – the ultimate female musical voice – Wood was stirred to write “Long Live the Queen” and share a video of her aching tribute with fans via her YouTube channel.
Wood has never stopped traveling and performing extensively, doing dozens of house concerts a year and appearing at Americana/folk festivals, as well as some of finest music venues in the land. As the fall approaches, she’s gearing up for even more travel – a nationwide tour to support the new album.
Katie Keller – firstname.lastname@example.org