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The Steel Woods

Old News – 2019 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by The Steel Woods

It sort of seems odd, on the surface anyway, that the Steel Woods would name their sophomore set "Old News," especially given the fact that they're relatively new as far as any senior status is concerned. Their 2017 full length debut, "Straw in the Wind," was released less than two years ago, while their 2016 eponymous EP that marked their debut only a short time before that.

Old news? They haven't aged sufficiently enough to indicate that's the case at all.

On the other hand, the title may be a cautionary comment on The Steel Woods' sound. It's a style that suggests an archival approach, one that recalls the Southern rock sensibilities of bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet and, of course, the originators of it all, the Allman Brothers Band. Indeed, they make every effort to convey their devotion, offering up several songs that reference early icons now sadly departed -- Tom Petty ("Southern Accents"), Merle Haggard ("Are The Good Times Really Over (I Wish A Buck Was Still Silver)"), and Greg Allman ("Whipping Post").

Then again, they also include a Black Sabbath cover called "Changes" just to mix things up, Remarkably, they find a way to make it fit their purposes.

Still, there's no doubt about their desire to pay homage to the heritage. That's evident in the sturdy stomp of opening track "All Of These Years" and "Blind Lover," the resolute resolve of "Without You" and "Compared to a Soul," and the persistence and perseverance of songs such as "Wherever You Are," "Rock That Says My Name" and the title tune. Emphasis and attitude go hand in hand, and given a sound that echoes with Dixie's dogged determination, that erstwhile southern stamina is as obvious as ever. That's the good news about "Old News" and even at this early stage, it can't help but solidify their standing.

Lee Zimmerman is a freelance writer and author based in Maryville, Tenn. He also expounds on music on his web site, Stories Beyond the Music - Americana Music Reviews, Interviews & Articles. His new book - Americana Music - Voices, Visionaries and Pioneers of an Honest Sound - is available from Texas A&M University Publishing.