Oliver Wood, one third of the treasured roots/Americana trio The Wood Brothers, has shared his first ever solo release—a single entitled “Soul Of This Town”. Co-written and recorded with acclaimed Raleigh, NC-based singer-songwriter Phil Cook, the song is rooted in rugged gospel-blues as it laments the loss of “soul” in cities across the U.S. Like the best of Oliver’s songwriting over the years, its lyric speaks for the underdog, in this case those displaced by gentrification under the guise of progress. “They say they cleaned up all the projects, welcomed everyone to stay, but the rent keeps on rising and pushing everybody away,” mourns the song’s narrator. Oliver’s son Kieran Wood adds horns to the recording, marking their first documented collaboration, as well.
“‘Soul Of This Town’ is a full-on collaboration with my friend Phil Cook. The first time I heard Phil’s music I knew right away I wanted to sing and play with him. We didn’t know each other then, but when a mutual friend introduced us, we hit it off immediately, and made plans to write together. A few months later Phil was coming through Nashville and we booked a few hours in the studio. The week before he came he sent me chords and a melody he had. He didn’t have lyrics, but he did reference Bob Dylan’s ‘Nashville Skyline’ and mentioned the present day rapid growth of Nashville, cranes everywhere and the face of the town changing with every visit,” explains Oliver. “I loved Phil’s ideas and thought about Nashville, and then thought more universally about a lot of cities where gentrification is not only changing the look of the place, but displacing so many people. Cities are literally selling their souls in the name of growth and progress, which obviously doesn’t benefit everyone (though you’d think it should and could). I immediately wrote a few verses and a chorus and sent it back to Phil. He got excited and wrote a few verses too, and by the time we got to the studio it didn’t take us long to flesh it out and perform it live together. We recorded what we thought would be a demo of the song, but it turned out we loved having captured our first performance together and it felt special enough to keep and release.”
Oliver Wood and Phil Cook began collaborating on “Soul Of This Town” over a year ago, but the downtime created by the pandemic gave them each the space in their individual schedules to complete the song. Oliver had a year of touring and promotion lined up in support of The Wood Brothers’ latest album, ‘Kingdom In My Mind,’ that was released in January 2020, while Phil Cook had released a collection of instrumental recordings entitled ‘As Far As I Can See’ at the tail end of 2019.