Wood Belly exploded onto the scene in 2018 with the release of their debut album Solid Ground, a first-place finish at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival’s Band Competition, and an IBMA Momentum Band of the Year nomination. In the year and a half since, the quintet has worked tirelessly to make a name for themselves in the crowded Front-Range bluegrass scene and, with the release of their sophomore record, Man on The Radio, they are positioning themselves for big things.
From the get-go, the old-timey country feel of the title track and the band’s passion for songwriting, tight harmonies, and fiery instrumental interplay set the bar very high for this 13 track collection. Fortunately, the rest of the album measures up with memorable tracks like the foot-stomping “Troubled Times” and the almost radio-friendly “Gone Are the Days” that features Jeremy Garrett of The Infamous Stringdusters on fiddle. A centerpiece of the record is the brilliantly written “Old Fool” that tells the story of a down on his luck drifter in three image-laden verses and a chorus that centers on the hook “moonshine’s the only thing keeping this old fool alive.”
While many of the songs rely on the strong vocals and well-written lyrics that are a hallmark of Wood Belly’s sound, the album is punctuated with two incendiary instrumentals. The upbeat and playful “Blue Merle” again features Jeremy Garrett while the haunting “Professor Willy’s Tonic” allows the Grammy Award-winning Sally Van Meter to shine on Dobro.
Recorded at Swingfingers Studio in Fort Collins with Van Meter in the producer chair, there’s a timeless quality to this record that proves that Wood Belly is maturing as they build on early successes with a collection of songs that will help to fortify a lasting legacy.