(Self-released, digital download)
Since September 11, 2001, the vague threat of terrorists “winning” has been the impetus for all manner of American activities, from resuming shopping at megamalls to playing football to, well, war. However, it’s a safe bet that the shadowy specter of victorious ne’er-do-wells has rarely, if ever, been the driving force behind writing, recording and releasing an album in the span of one week. Well, maybe Toby Keith’s Shock’n Y’all. There’s no way that record could have taken more than seven days to crap out, right? But I digress.
Burlington duo the Wind Woods is a collaboration of local songwriters Joe Adler and Emily Rozanski that grew out of a series of late-night jam sessions. “Seven days or the terrorists win,” they muse on their website. Their debut album, Greetings From Tokyo, was, in fact, intentionally created, from conception to birth, in a scant seven days earlier this summer. And, yes, according to the accompanying liner notes, terrorists may have been involved. Sort of.
Though it’s unlikely Al-Qaeda operatives will catch wind of the record, or flee in defeat if they do, the eight-song sampler is a humble gem. It’s a woozy, bluesy — and almost certainly boozy — little collection that showcases talented performers indulging in artistic freedom, a concept your average suicide bomber would likely fail to grasp.
From the easy, rambling opening notes of “Rocking Chair,” the album is appealingly laid back. It’s not sloppy, per se. But it’s definitely casual. Adler’s typically sturdy baritone is especially inviting in this regard — you can imagine his Cheshire grin as he gleefully harmonizes with Rozanski.
She takes the lead on the following cut, “Will,” and reinforces the album’s bleary-eyed aesthetic with a sweet, plain alto. It’s a sad little ditty, but sad in the pleasantly melancholy way one might feel drinking a bottle of wine and listening to old Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen records. Sometimes, a little heartache is like visiting an old friend, a notion ably invoked here.
Their individual turns are often engaging, but Adler and Rozanski are best together. Their breezy duet on the Springsteen tribute “Honey” is a highlight, as are the bouncy “Change in the Air” and the searching lament “A Quick Reveal.” Album closer “Windward” provides a rollicking, jazzy finish.
The Wind Woods may not ward off any impending terrorist attacks. But who knows? If said terrorists gave Greetings From Tokyo a spin — ideally late at night with a bottle of hooch — it might just chill ’em out for a bit.
Greetings From Tokyo is available for free download at joeadler.bandcamp.com.