Greg Wood III Album Review by Annie Reuter
Greg Wood’s third release, appropriately titled Greg Wood III, is a solid rock album that leaves the listener wanting more. Named an artist to watch and in the Top 20 for Taylor Guitars’ worldwide song contest, Wood is well on his way to becoming a household name.
A bigger production than anything he has attempted before, Greg Wood III embodies bombastic guitar parts, heavy-hitting percussion interludes and Wood’s Dave Grohl-esque vocals. Dark, yet hopeful songs are entwined in the 11-track release while Wood says it’s his “most flat-out, adrenaline-pumping work yet.”
Greg Wood III starts with gritty electric guitar before Wood’s powerful vocals enter for the first time on “Razorblades.” Additional percussion picks up the pace and further exemplifies Wood’s hard rock vibe. With his raspy singing style throughout the track, it’s hard not to be reminded of the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl. As a result, Wood’s singing style embodies a distinct urgency. In fact, when he asks, “When will my dreams become reality” it’s easy to relate.
Next track, the fast paced “You Wouldn’t Understand” follows with equally edgy guitar and Wood’s captivating vocals. Authoritative tracks so far, one can only imagine what his performance would be like in a live setting. While “Razorblades” and “You Wouldn’t Understand” bring more of a rock vibe to the album, “Little While” switches gears with more Southern flavor. Singing about whiskey and smoking among impressive guitar riffs, the track continues to showcase Wood’s staying power.
“Fly Away” follows suit and features nearly a minute instrumental interlude. Never losing his listener, while “Hope In Her Eyes” slows down the pace of the album, Wood’s softer vocals remain to keep the listener intrigued. Additionally, his emotion is adequately showcased here.
Not afraid to express his sensitive side, the poignant “Father’s Touch” strikes a chord. With beautiful vocals by Lindsey Ell and fitting pedal steel and organ accompaniment, a new genre of music is introduced. With obvious country undertones and a delicate percussion beat, Wood’s talent runs the gamut. There aren’t many rock musicians who can effortlessly segue from a heavy hitting number to a ballad, but Wood accomplishes just this. A standout track, Ell’s spot-on vocals impress.
Always one for surprises, Wood picks things right back up with edgy guitar parts on “Infinity” while next track, “Cocaine Lover” recalls Carlos Santana with fast and soaring riffs midway
through the song. His eased singing style at the song’s start is just another example of Wood’s versatility as organ accompaniment continues to flush out the track. With an almost jam band feel, the laidback track allows the listener to relax, if only for a moment.
“Memories & Postcards” continue to showcase Wood’s serious side and ability to sing darker storylines while keeping the listener intrigued. The somber lyrics on this track are coupled with powerful guitar interludes and fitting percussion.
The darker “Perfect Drug” reintroduces Wood’s heavier side with guttural vocals and equally melancholy guitar features while the “Whiskey Smile” brings Greg Wood III to a slow close. With seductive vocals and similarly engaging guitar parts, the album ends strongly.
A standout release, Wood continues to showcase his staying power throughout the entirety of Greg Wood III. With obvious influences from already established acts like the Foo Fighters and Carlos Santana, Wood is well on his way.
Review by Annie Reuter
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Greg Wood III Album Review by: Wildy Haskell
Alberta native Greg Wood is making his success the old fashion way. He’s earned it. Wood spent much of 2008 traveling coast-to-coast in the US playing songs for most anyone who would listen. And listen they did; Wood was showing himself to have the sort of story-telling talent that makes a great singer/songwriter, as well as the big-time guitar skills that make rock and roll legends. His bluesy-rock songs quickly garnered Wood enough of a following to convince him he could make music a full-time occupation. Returning home, Wood decided to record some of his songs, resulting in his debut EP, Set You Free. The effort garnered Wood airplay on radio stations across Canada, and acknowledgement by Skopemag as an “Artist To Watch”. Wood continued to build on small successes, and 2011 sees him refusing to slow down. Wood’s latest effort, Greg Wood III, is sonically larger than anything he has done before, but it is a necessary evolution in sound that allows Wood to continue growing as a songwriter and performer.
Greg Wood III opens with “Razorblades”, showing a small-scale big rock sound that’s appealing. Wood is obviously inspired by heavier rock bands such as Nickelback or Three Doors Down, but maintains a reserve in his sound that allows his talent as a lyricist and storyteller to shine through. His voice has a lyric rock quality to it, with an affable growl reminiscent of early Eddie Vedder. “You Wouldn’t Understand” is a pure guitar rocker that’s very catchy, with some serious blues influence in its roots. Wood shreds his way through it with panache. “Little While” focuses on a transitory relationship, with Wood celebrating his luck in a pure rock anthem with distinctive pop sensibility. This could be a hit, although Wood may need to muscle up the sound a bit to get the attention of radio programmers. Think Daughtry at his best here.
“Fly Away” is a bit more generic, with a repetitive chorus that’s solid but doesn’t really catch the attention. It’s a solid album track, but not much more. Wood strips things down for “Hope In Her Eyes”, a sweet ballad about falling in love all over again. Wood’s singer/songwriter tendencies surface strongly here in an arrangement that’s aurally appealing and perfectly fit to the lyrics. Listeners may notice some sonic similarity to the band Live here as well. Careful listeners will have heard a seeming tendency toward Americana in Wood’s songwriting, particularly on “Hope In Her Eyes”. Your suspicions are about to be validated on “Father’s Touch”, which features the incomparable Lindsay Ell in a classic duet. Wood sounds right at home here, and Ell has a smoky country voice reminiscent of Shelby Lynne. The two voices mix perfectly, and the mournful pedal steel is the perfect accent.
Wood recovers his rock n roll mojo on “Infinity”. Just try to sit still through this song. You simply won’t be able to. Keeping the vocal line low-key, Wood uses an energetic guitar to drive the song into a catchy chorus you won’t be able to get out of your head. “Cocaine Lover” is
catchy, bluesy and dark. Full of a melancholy sensuality, the song is appealing in spite of its dark content. “Memories And Postcards” doesn’t work as well, and feels out of place here. Wood sounds a bit whiney here, which is very much out of character with his performances throughout the rest of the album. The song itself is formulaic and unoriginal, and uninspired lyrically, considering what Wood is capable of. “Perfect Drug” is driven and catchy, with a pop sensibility that grabs you by the shirt and pulls you along. Wood winds things down with “Whiskey Smile”, a rocker about a party girl that starts out mellow and builds into a chorus that’s worthy of a rock anthem. As earlier, the arrangement would need to be muscled up to catch on with radio programmers, but it would be hard to claim that Wood doesn’t know how to write a hit song.
Greg Wood proves his credentials to be true on Greg Wood III. The pieces of an enduring and classic rock n roll album are all here. Wood has a pleasant, memorable voice, and his songwriting is generally above par and occasionally crossing over into greatness. The composition, and particularly the guitar work, on Greg Wood III are memorable and appealing, but Wood will need to enhance the sound a bit if he wants big time radio exposure. That’s not to say the album would be better that way, however. Wood fits well where he is, creating a big, active rock sound that’s accessible outside of the homogenized world of radio pop. Wood is most appealing because he’s real, with an organic approach to rock and roll that’s refreshing. Greg Wood III is ultimately satisfying, even on the occasions when it falls a bit shy of expectations.
Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5) Review by: Wildy Haskell
Greg Wood III Album Review by Nick DeRiso
The opening “Razorblades” combines a crunchy guitar riff, at once hard and propulsive, with a snarled lyric full of similar-sounding recriminations. The singer-songwriter has, with only a moment’s notice, framed Greg Wood III as a darkly confessional offering, but one that doesn’t at first promise much in the way of melancholy wonder. Wood’s fleet solo, a burst of emotion, telegraphs a more direct response to life’s troubled times: Punching back.
A similar riffy menace surrounds “You Wouldn’t Understand,” which only becomes more freewheeling with the addition of a swooning slide. Wood tries again, within the song’s scalding lyrics, to explain things: “I’m a life,” he sings, “that’s built on pain,” before seeming to give up on framing it all: “You wouldn’t understand.”
Even Wood’s love songs, it seems, are going to be difficult expressions of broken passion, as on the soaring “Little While,” where his characters make gruff admissions on the fleeting nature of relationships. At the same time, though, Wood begins sketching out a very different storyline on the guitar -- one of hard-bitten perspective that only comes from being hurt one too many times. Drummer Byran Bueckert is, as always, a rattling engine pushing Wood’s heavy-rocking tunes into another gear, but already we get the sense that there is more to Greg Wood III than shredding.
The subsequent “Fly Away” makes good on that promise, as Wood settles into a more contemplative groove, allowing himself to sing rather than growl for the first time on the project. His solo work this time is a perfectly proportioned, blues-drenched cry, rather than an angry retort. From there, Wood moves through a series of musical environments, and in some instances deeper, sentiment.
First, comes the delicate acoustic beauty found on the intro to “Hope In Her Eyes.” Of course, before long, Wood and Co. come rumbling back for the crisply exciting chorus -- mimicking the narrative sweep associated with bands like Pearl Jam -- but not before showing a canny ability to perform in more considered surroundings. (Wood returns to this ebb-and-flow formula later, with “Memories and Postcards.”)
Any questions as to whether Wood and Co. can handle the raw openness of a ballad are answered on the fully realized “Father’s Touch,” as Wood welcomes a pair of guest artists in organist Chris Andrew and vocalist Lindsey Ell. Multi-instrumentalist Stew Kirkwood, already heard on bass and piano, switches to pedal steel guitar, as well. The result is a country-tinged lament, this elegantly wrought story of missed opportunities in
love. Ell’s vocal blends perfectly with Wood’s, and with Kirkwood’s weeping lines, to create this moment of hushed, heartbroken beauty.
Then Wood plugs back in, as “Infinity” comes roaring out with a grungy Bo Diddley beat. In full howl again now, Wood’s character returns to complaining about his one-horse town and brushing off a girl who can’t see how he really feels -- all while Wood tears off a series of brawny licks on the guitar.
“Cocaine Lover,” perhaps the most intricate musical offering on Greg Wood III, seems at first to be a showcase for a burst of Doors-inspired organ from Andrew. Soon, however, Bueckert begins working in a convoluted drum signature, and he and Wood deftly move the song from a mid-tempo lope into a dynamic, polyrhythmic groove -- and then back again. “Perfect Drug” finds Kirkwood (now on bass) and Wood bashing their way through an intensely desolate cadence, even as Wood’s offers his most blatantly catchy vocal. The lyric has more to do with the former than the latter, however, as Wood cautions against falling for someone who struggles to contain his welled-up emotions: “I should have never let you see … a darker side of me,” Wood sings over a shambling, stuttering music bed that perfectly underscores this collision of atmospherics.
Finally, there’s “Whiskey Smile,” another urgently rocking fable about somebody who’s dealing with just a little bit more than she can handle. As Bueckert thrums along with dangerous intent, Wood offers a closing blast of guitar fury -- moving from quietly assertive to deadly serious then to a lusty shout, then back again.
It’s a nice metaphor for Greg Wood III as a whole, this head-banging record that touches the heart, too.
Review by Nick DeRiso
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Greg Wood III Album Review by Ray Ladd
The lyrics and music on his latest album have a heavy hitting, kick you in the balls sound. Empowering vocals with crisp, clear, hot as hell guitar are rounded out by hard pounding drums that keep you entwined within the attitude that is this new distinctive sound. That's what puts Greg aside from alot of other independent artists today. It clearly reflects his past and present musical influences, from Metallica to Eddie Vedder, and emphasizes his continuous evolution as a musical artist.
Most of the songs on this album are about relationships, love and sex, to which most of us can, to varying degrees, understand and relate to. Greg has stated that 'love' is universal, and his experiences of success and sorrow played a big part in creating this album. GREG WOOD III has been billed as a bigger production than anything he has attempted so far.
He's continuously improving his skills as a song writer and musician by working in the best studios and performing to the best of his abilities not only in the studio, but also the multitude of live shows he performs at. His largest live show to date has been Boonstock, an outdoor festival, held just outside of Gibbons, Alberta. Greg performed alongside many other musicians in front of hundreds of fans that, regardless of the rain, partied to great music all weekend long.
Despite his success, he hasn't forgotten his roots, performing a live show in his hometown of Bonnyville, Alberta, in June 2011, Greg made the time to autograph several posters and one lucky young fan's guitar, which happened to be the first one that he has been asked to sign. When asked how he felt about it, he replied, "It's great, that's the first time I've been asked to autograph a guitar! It's nice to know that I can have such a good impact on a young artist."
With an artist as diverse as Greg Wood, it's easy to find favourites on the record. It simply depends on which of his vast array of influences you share. His use of the slide guitar on " You Wouldnt Understand" shows the maturity of his musicianship, while the lyrics in "Little While" are written from experience and a unique insight. Those are just two of the standout tracks on the album in my opinion. But you might adopt others as your favourites, as there's really not a bad track on the album.
Five of Greg's songs are featured on the extreme snowmobiling film "Thunderstruck 10," released in August 2011 by USA based Thunderstruck Films. Two of those songs, "Razorblades" and "Little While," are from this latest album. What's next for Greg Wood? In his own words, "an unplugged album, co-writing in Nashville, writing the next rock album, building a new studio and a summer 2012 tour."
Review by Ray Ladd for canadianbands.com
Greg Wood III Album Review by Gary Hill
Greg Wood seems for most of this album be reaching for that sound. The thing is, he also shows some real originality. The Nickelback-inspired sound has held on in terms of popularity for a long time, but its freshness date has to be nearing expiration. When that happens, music like the majority of this album will seem very dated and silly. For that reason, Wood might be better off focusing more on his other styles. He’s got the talent, but if he gets too branded as an alternative rock Nickelback wannabe it will hurt him in the long run.
“Razorblades” definitely feels like a song by Nickelback or some other FM radio monster. It’s good, but not really anything special. It just sounds like a million other songs by a million other bands. The guitar solo, though, is rather tasty. Still, songs like this do well on alternative rock radio, despite the fact that they are completely unoriginal.
When “You Wouldn't Understand” comes in, it seems like it’s going to be cut from the same cloth. Instead, though, there’s some tasty slide guitar bringing some real blues to the table. The vocals, though, take it all back to the generic hard rock band sound. The anthemic chorus is another touch in the right direction.
“Little While” is another cut that feels about as generic in the anthemic hard rock sound as it gets. Again, this type of music does well, but lacks anything original. While “Fly Away” is still pretty catchy, it manages to break free of the alternative rock trap that held the first few songs so tightly. It’s still not overly original, but at least it establishes some unique identity. The guitar solo section, in particular, taps into some territory that’s a bit fresher.
Again, “Hope In Her Eyes” doesn’t wander too far from familiar territory, but shows some signs of originality. There’s a balladic approach to the musical journey, but it powers up later. “Father's Touch (featuring Lindsey Ell)” is next. And, depending on the listener’s preferences, this is either the point the album exhibits the first signs of something interesting or where the wheels fall off the ride. This country duet is quite tasty and shows some real originality. It’s hard to believe that people brought in by the generic alternative rock of the first few songs will like this, though.
While the vocals bring back some of that alternative rock sound, the song structure of “Infinity” has a Bo Diddley beat and some real old school rock and roll in the mix. It
turns out towards the generic zone later, but there’s enough originality here to make it interesting. There is a tasty classic rock guitar solo on this one, too.
Another that pulls some real originality to the album, “Cocaine Lover” starts in a mellow mode that calls to mind something from The Zombies. It powers out to harder rock later, but a retro organ solo and other elements keep it unique. It even works out to a Latin jam band workout later that calls to mind Santana. Again, it seems unlikely that the people who sought out this disc for the first couple tracks will like this, but it’s among the best music here.
While “Memories & Postcards” has more of that alternative rock texture, it’s set in a rather interesting ballad approach. When it fires out towards harder rocking sounds, there’s almost an old school garage metal texture to the main riff. That also lends originality to the cut.
Back in pretty typical alternative rock territory, there are a few things, most notably an Iron Maiden-like guitar riff that recurs, that keep “Perfect Drug” from being totally generic.
Some acts probably latch onto that alternative rock style because it’s all they can do. Greg Wood shows that he’s got the ability to stretch beyond it. It would probably be a good idea for him to distance himself from a style that’s likely to go down as being an archaic dinosaur, much like the 1960’s bubble gum pop.
Review by Gary Hill
Rating: 3 Stars (out of 5)
Greg Wood III Album Review by Heath Andrews
While Wood handles the vocals and guitars, he’s joined by drummer Byran Bueckert and bassist Stew Kirkwood who also handles the piano and pedal steel guitar. The group functions very well together with Wood’s guitars being the primary focus of the arrangements. Fortunately he’s a talented enough guitarist to be able to take the limelight and thrive in it. Throughout the album are numerous catchy riffs and impressive solos, all of them backed up in great form by the band.
“Razorblades” fittingly begins the album with a sound that Wood utilizes for most of the songs to follow. Though it starts off soft and low the sound picks up until Wood is riffing along and joined in by a solid rhythm section. From there the song goes along into not unfamiliar songwriting territory; Wood, in a singing growl, tells of his anger over a breakup, described as a “Goodbye and razor blades.” It’s a pretty by-the-numbers song but made stronger by a well-played solo. “You Wouldn’t Understand” doesn’t attempt to fix what isn’t broken and delivers what you’d expect once it starts.
That is at once, Greg Wood III’s greatest strength and weakness. Many of the songs are consistently structured and played to where there are some differences in tone and melody but not a lot else. Take for instance, “Fly Away” and “Whiskey Smile.” The former of these two has a much lighter feeling to the chorus, emphasizing the emotional release and escape the singer seeks. The latter has a softer tone during the verses but the chorus returns to the typical formula which of course, leads into another great guitar solo. Those minor changes aside, there’s not a lot to separate them from the first three songs as they are all consistently well played, just not as distinctive.
There are a few songs however where Woods completely breaks with his typical sound and they work very well in the context of the album overall. The first one is “Hope In Her Eyes” and it begins with a wonderfully acoustic opening surprisingly reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” There’s a nice, slight build-up to the chorus too that opens up fully once it hits it. Even once it reaches this point, that infectious melody that began the song is still present, seeing the piece through to its end.
Directly following it is easily the most gripping song of the eleven, “Father’s Touch.” Country influences run strong here and are brought out by the steel guitar and guest vocals from Lindsey Ell. This is also Wood’s best lyric, rich with imagery and emotion; even his voice takes on a bit
of a country twang at certain points. Adding to the song’s greatness are the piano and organ parts played by Kirkwood and Chris Andrew respectively. Andrew’s presence is also noteworthy on the track, “Cocaine Lover,” in how much his playing adds to the piece’s atmosphere and it does the same thing here.
In another surprising move, Wood even ventures a little bit into a harder alternative rock sound with “Perfect Drug.” It begins with a heavy bass rattle and unleashes with a flurry of vocal hooks and the catchiest riff on the record. As the song chugs onward, it flows into a tightly constructed and performed guitar solo before returning back to the chorus.
For all the formulaic writing that pops up on Greg Wood III, none of it is poorly performed or ill-conceived. Everything Greg Wood and his band do, they do well, even if it gets a little repetitive. That being said, if you like the riff-rocking, it features so prominently that you’re guaranteed to find plenty more of it to enjoy. Wood being the great guitarist that he is pulls the album together with his talent and more than that, shows he’s capable of musical diversity as evidenced by his country and alternative sounds. Thanks to its album cover, it may look like a soundtrack to the television series, True Blood, but Greg Wood III is anything but that, and much more.
Review by: Heath Andrews
Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)
Greg Wood III Album Review by: Mike DeGagne
Wood’s music is somewhere along the lines of Creed, Theory Of A Deadman, and Nickelback…a combination of rock-perfect vocals with a slight gruffness, and lyrics ranging from love to heartbreak to deception. The opening track, “Razorblade” starts off with a catchy guitar riff that builds into the chorus and then explodes with Wood’s soulful voice. The entire cut is engulfed with a wonderful rock backbone and should be listened to loud. Wood struts his guitar prowess with some rather impressive guitar playing about three-quarters of the way through the song. With all of these elements, this track should be the first released single. “You Wouldn’t Understand” packs the same kind of punch as it closely imitating the previous track, but sounding just a tad more commercial and familiar.
The only downside to the album becomes apparent in the third track. “Little While” repeats steps one and two…sure, the energy is there and the guitar work is front and center, but there’s a little bit of redundancy in the chords, in the flow of the song, and the overall song as a complete package. “Fly Away” changes things up a bit, sparking a different tempo and chemistry while maintaining a sturdy, stable rock feel. The chorus is catchy, and the short riffs create a hook that really works.
“Hope In Her Eyes “ spotlights Wood’s gifted voice. Wood can sound amazingly sincere and honest in his singing, and this track is evidence of this. The song itself is another mid-tempo rock tune, brought down just a notch by the familiar-sounding chorus. “Father’s Touch” is a well-written slower track, seemingly about a girl who died pregnant and the pain felt by her lover who never had the chance to be the father of her child…”a father’s touch never felt”. The song itself is a great change of pace, but at the same time it exhibits Wood’s ability to write a pretty decent story song.
“Cocaine Lover” has a smooth rock flow with more colorful guitar work, yet it refreshingly strays from the other songs because of its less chunky, rather abbreviated rock flavor, which tends to work in Wood‘s favor in this case. “Perfect Drug” is another well-sung track that is made for radio with its quirky pace and hook-laden makeup. The album wraps up with “Whiskey Smile”, a song that’s weighted down with the burden of sounding like too many other songs played by aforementioned artists like Nickelback and Theory Of A Deadman.
Greg Wood has the talent…there’s no doubt about it. He has the guitar-playing prowess, the ability to craft catchy riffs and hooks, and he’s capable of writing effective lyrics that are smart and attention grabbing. The only flaw in this album is the fact that he hasn’t yet broken away from sounding like many existing or pre-existing bands, and because of this, a few of the tracks sound too much alike. There’s a clichéd sound that veins through three or four of the tracks, causing the audience to stray slightly from any immediate listening only to focus on the question, “ Who does this guy sound like?” This is truly the only point against Greg Wood III. There’s great music here, and with just a little fine tuning, Mr. Wood will soon be distinguishing himself with a more original, distinct sound that bears his fingerprints, all done without falling too far away from the rock and roll tree.
Review by Mike DeGagne
Rating: 3 Stars (out of 5)
Greg Wood Album Review by: Dan Brisebois
The Bonnyville, Alberta native is now based out of Edmonton, and was surrounded by everything from roots country to more rock than a geologist growing up. He's an artist not afraid to dip into the experiment jar - and the pay-off is huge, with a debut album that's polished, well-written and produced.
The lead off track "Ride On" has balls, with a compelling groove, pounding rhythms and great guitar riff. With "Bedroom Eyes," "Empty Shell" and "Old Dusty Road," Greg's not trying to hide behind shifty studio hocus pocus. The songs are clean and crisp, and a testament to old school metal riffs, the music is real and full of highlights.
Attention to detail and strong guitar work are the backbone of an overall solid first effort. Even with the acoustically driven "Broken Hearted Girl" and "Hold On," there are glimpses of Page and Clapton, two of his biggest influences. Along with the other ballads, "Drift Away, "Born To Be Alone," and the Stevie Ray styled "Wake Up," strong lyrics paint the pictures and tell the stories.
"I Want A Girl" is a cross between a modernized Sex Pistols and Weezer, kind of reminiscent of Pursuit of Hapiness - pumped with attitude. The song is straight forward and fun, which in turn is part of Greg's appeal.
CD review: GREG WOOD
By: Dan Brisebois
Set You Free EP Review by: Dan Brisebois
He credits everyone from Metallica and Van Halen to Hendrix and Stevie Ray as his early influences, but soon expanded that list to The Man In Black and Kris Kristofferson, to Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton - and everyone in between.
His stage debut was on a grand piano at age six, and has since either won or was a finalist in numerous talent shows across the province. He's also gained rave reviews for his calm demeanor that erupts into confident, dynamic and exciting on-stage performances. After graduating at aged 17, he left home to pursue his passion. Now 22 and living in Edmonton, he put out his sophomore album, SET YOU FREE in 2009.
The self-written, four-track EP is a personal acoustic journey into a young man's life – often somber, always intriguing and never disappointing. Many of the inspirations for the material came while traveling coast to coast on both sides of the border, from the first single, "Broken Hearted Girl," to the raucous "About You," the album is full of excitement and emotion, as is the case with both the title track and "Pass Me By."