Love Is Love

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Recorded in the two months following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Woods' tenth album is a laid-back call to arms that delivers the simple message embodied by the title, Love Is Love. Taking up where their last album, 2016's City Sun Eater in the River of Light, left off, the six songs here are imbued with psychedelic funk, Ethiopian jazz, inner-space explorations, and gently strummed acid folk jams. The saxes and horns take an even larger role, the rhythms are even more limber (check the opening title track for some proof of that, plus some hefty guitar soloing), and Jeremy Earl's lyrics have all the weary, defiant grace that the situation calls for. The album may be on the short side at only six songs, but it didn't need to be any longer. The running time of just over half an hour is the perfect length for a short jolt of sonic warmth and friendly reassurance. Plus, an honest look at the feeling many people had in the wake of the election's results. A nightmare vision of a world turned upside down, "Lost in a Crowd" is handled gently by the band (in very Band-like fashion) with tinkling keys, thrumming organ, and lovely vocal harmonies helping to sugarcoat the message just a bit. Add in a spooky, trippy instrumental ("Spring Is in the Air") and a sprawling psych-folk hymn ("Hit That Drum"), and it's another fine release from the band. Created out of sadness and unease, the album turns these negatives into something more positive. To Woods' credit, they don't look for easy answers, and Love Is Love is a thought-provoking, intensely felt album, full of all the warmth, frustration, and alternating bouts of despair and hope that half (or more) of the United States felt at the time the record was recorded.

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