Wooden Wand, a.k.a. James Jackson Toth, is a hard dude to pin down. Depending on the day of the week, a listener might discover outlaw alt-folk (2010's Death Seat), rowdy rock'n'roll (2011's Briarwood), or something else entirely. His brand new album, Blood Oaths of the New Blues, flouts expectation again by delivering a gorgeous set of sprawling songs with a comfortably minimalist and hi-fi feel. According to Fire Records, this is Toth's "Sunday morning 'wake and bake' record," an attempt to "make an album like the kind he would listen to on headphones when he was 14 and discovering hallucinogens." But rather than a Technicolor psychedelic trip, Blood Oaths offers a slow-rolling expansion born of live, full-band sessions recorded in Homewood, Alabama, haunting harmonium hum and the occasional backmasked message.
The strongest intoxicant in the mix, however, is Toth's voice — a world-weary thing touched with just the slightest bit of twang, prone to poetic proclamations about the human condition. The "new blues" found here may vary in length, from 11:48 all the way down to 1:23, but these eight songs weave easily together to form one big blanket of beautiful. In other words, exactly the kind of thing you want to crawl under and enjoy with a head fulla benevolent drugs.