Devil in a Woodpile
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2000, Volume 7, #10
Written by John Metzger
On its sophomore effort Division Street, Chicago's Devil in a Woodpile begins to come into its own. The group's self-titled debut contained five original songs, but each stayed firmly entrenched within the band's early folk and blues roots. Nevertheless, the tunes fit in quite nicely alongside material by Sonny Boy Williamson, Sleepy John Estes, and Big Bill Broonzy.
On Division Street, Devil in a Woodpile once again digs deep to deliver its wickedly accurate portraits of early Americana, but this time around it performs the material with greater confidence. The traditional gospel-blues of I Shall Not Be Moved is positively rapturous, and Rev. Gary Davis' Samson and Delilah chugs along its steadfast, tuba-driven bass line with an inebriated swagger.
Many times throughout Division Street, Rick Cookin' Sherry's vocals take a decidedly eerie, Jim Morrison-like twist — most notably on the slow grind of the band's own compositions Before They Get Me Down and the open road barbeque tale of Manifold. In stark contrast stands Lepidoptera, an instrumental composition on which the group blends acoustic guitar and mandolin to paint a gorgeous melody that drifts gently over the bass-like sound of a plumbing pipe.
On Division Street, much like Devil in a Woodpile's debut, listeners shouldn't expect to hear cutting-edge music made with a crass, commercial, glossy shine. That's simply not what this group is about. However, for those who prefer the sounds of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, Devil in a Woodpile undeniably is an equally delightful, fun-filled romp through the backwoods of early Americana.
Division Street is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2000 The Music Box