(for european reviews click here)
…from Billboard Magazine /June 10, 2000
ERIC WOOD Illustrated Night Producers: Eric Wood, Romany Music Productions Appaloosa Records AP 136
An intensely seductive late-night vibe pervades this striking second effort from New Yorker Eric Wood, a hipster troubadour whose exotica-laced folk/jazz tunes exert an almost hypnotic pull. Wood, who's amassed an enthusiastic European following--and who deserves the same at home--floats his ruminative sketches of life, love, and other vital elements on a cool and dreamy bed of acoustic guitar, piano, vibes, string bass, and drums. Wood's backing band is superb, waxing and waning with the flow of his mood-indigo compositions on "Illustrated Night," which is more melodic and focused than his intriguing 1997 debut, "Letters From The Earth." As with his first release, the knowing sophistication of Wood's music is deliciously offset by his fervent, blood-warm vocals, which are often compared (favorably) to those of the long-departed Tim Buckley. And Wood's tender timbre occasionally recalls Paul Simon's. Standout tracks include "Fool's Gold," "Opus to Ecstasy," and "Crazy Jane."
Live in New York City /February 2000
The wind is driving off the
river as I approach 10th Avenue, walking west on 34th
street. It’s 13 degrees with a wind chill of minus 8 as I listen to Eric
Wood’s latest CD on the discman with the headphones. In the number “Let My
People Go,” a fierce Latin beat drives the song. Underneath my three and four
layers of clothing, it’s getting warmer.
With his band: T Xiques on drums, Carlo DeRosa on string bass, Jeff Berman on vibes and Luis Perdomo on piano, Eric Wood (on acoustic guitar) cranks out a groove seldom heard on any contemporary singer/songwriter recording. He seems to have inherited the soul of an elderly Black jazz diva. When I first heard his voice hit some of the higher registers, I thought he had gotten someone like Shirley Horn as a guest vocalist. Nope….it was still Eric.
Writing with a sense of
universal philosophy, directed at the failings of all mankind can be hard to
pull off. Eric makes it work with an intelligence fueled by passion. In “Let
My People Go,” Eric yearns for freedom from the inescapable manipulation that
seems to haunt all of us, from average person to monarch. He sings: “…The
wisest of kings is most easily swayed from his power by his own hand-picked
fool.” “Fools Gold” contains a similar desire “…deliver me from this
fool whose cravings rule..” This time he borrows middle- eastern melodic
styles and combines them effectively with Latin stylings.
“The Call,” about a relationship that never finds the spark to let it burst into flame is, nevertheless, another fiery piece… “Over and over, she answers the phone, no one hears ringing and talks to the tone…”
“Blue Impression” is a slow and relaxed contemplation that seems to pay homage to Tim Buckley, one of Eric’s inspirations, and someone he is sometimes compared to.
“Fade Into Love” is another hot laser to the eardrum… “I would have lost my heart to you any way…even if we hadn’t been destined to fade…fade into love.”
If you don’t mind a bit of
jazz mixed in with your acoustic singer/songwriter fix, this should get you off
very nicely. Richard
…from Rootstown Music
(Antwerp Belgium) / May 2000
Eric Wood - Illustrated Night - Appaloosa (36'34'')***˝ (Munich)
Some two yeras ago, we reviewed Eric Wood's debut Letters From The Earth here, the one we got from indie-label Tangible Music. We tried to explain you at that time how much we were impressed with the man's strong songs and his jazzy voice. This new record is not going to change our opinion : the man is still writing hig city-folk-tunes in the vein of Joni Mitchell and the late Tim Buckley. Those among you, who like to buy their music from the shop where weird characters are common, those who are not afraid of listening to not-very-obvious melodies, those, so to speak, who are not afraid of listening, will be as impressed as we are. The CD-title says it all : these songs illustrate whatever the night has to offer : loneliness and the search for amusement, followed up by another loneliness. That's about the trade mark of these ten songs, that aren't made at all for people who think songs consist of verses and choruses. These songs are so strong, so beautiful : it's been quite a long time since we heard a song as sticking as Bury Me Standing, even though The Call and Opus to Ecstasy touched us as well. This music is not very accessible (if that word exists), but he who searches, will find, that's for sure. Let's just call it music for gourmets.
Dani Heyvaert …
In a classic
prophet-without-honor scenario, New York songwriter Eric Wood found a wide
audience in Italy--where much of this album was recorded in the midst of a
tour--but remains unknown in his homeland. Wood's benighted countrymen are
missing a lot. Tim Buckley comparisons abound in Wood's reviews, but they are
unavoidable. With the exception of Jeff Buckley, no one else carried that
fragile jazz-folk flame into the '90s with such deftness. If the elder Buckley
had survived for a couple of more decades, it's likely he'd be writing quirky
folk-bossa novas as gorgeous as "Blue Impression." Nevertheless,
Wood's style is full of originality and where-no-man-has-gone-before moments.
His lyrics reveal an uncommon depth both in their construction and their subject
matter, using poetic skills that reach back beyond any singer-songwriter models
to Joyce, Yeats, and even Shakespeare. The insistently percolating, rhythmically
inventive jazz combo that backs Wood is consistently inspiring. Harmonically
sophisticated shards of piano and vibes float through the arrangements, adding
another level of musicality. Wood's work is challenging, but as ILLUSTRATED
NIGHT bears out, it's well worth the effort.
Vocalist/guitarist, Eric Wood is featured on "Illustrated Night" ( Appaloosa ) which will be released in this country at the end of March. Though jazz by classification, the album plays cleverly with lyrics and melody, not unlike a Donald Fagen approach. The album is strongest on vocal collaboration with three different female singers. Especially appealing is the lead track, "Let My People Go." A New York City native, Wood sings with a sense of urgency and passion which is sure to be his trademark. For the most part, the album is lead by a quartet, which includes drums, bass, and NYC vibe favorite, Jeff Berman who fronted the 1994 gem, "Big Black Sun."
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