Woods Credit: Matt Rubin

Jammy New York band Woods aren’t any sort of a political combo, but that doesn’t mean the members don’t feel the overwhelming weight of last year’s election. In preparing to make their latest album, Love Is Love (Woodist), they made the deliberate choice to respond by embracing the titular emotion rather than the rage that enveloped so many of us. In a liner-note essay for the new record, music journalist Sam Hockley-Smith wrote, “There will be parts of life where we will watch as events unfold and we will feel helpless. We will not be sure of the future. On good days, we’ll have each other. On the bad ones, we’ll turn to the art that helps us feel something.” Indeed, the song “I Hit That Drum” opens with the lines, “Feeling dark and down / I hit that drum / It takes me away.” It’s a nice sentiment—though clearly not enough as rights and dignity are systematically stripped from our lives—and one consistent with the band’s post-Grateful Dead ethos. The six extended tracks turn those mellow thoughts into sound; Jeremy Earl delivers easygoing melodic shapes over chill, rolling grooves and rich arrangements that collide muted 60s soul with horn patterns that continue to reflect the band’s love of vintage Ethiopian pop. Sorrowful melodic shapes are suffused with an undeniable air of positivity on the instrumental “Spring Is in the Air,” where a tremolo-laden quasi-tambura drone pulses beneath languid horns, gently meandering Fender-Rhodes, spare dub effects, and a probing flute solo. As passive as it feels in such turbulent times, it achieves its goal of providing a kind of loving balm.   v