Wooden Wand is one of the many stage names of singer-songwriter James Jackson Toth. This 7” offers up three tracks of minimalist acoustic folk. The only instruments are Toth’s guitar and his voice, and both are working overtime on these home-recorded tracks. He demonstrates a gift for songwriting, with music and lyrics both working in conjunction to evoke mood and emotion, as in the somber “When Your Stepfather Dies.” Many singer-songwriters who perform with only their guitar and voice often struggle to keep silences at bay, constantly playing or singing, as if out of fear of losing the listener’s attention, but not Toth. He makes as much use of the brief silences between his guitar and voice as he does of his instruments, as in the track “Country Graveyard Soil.” The result is a certain gravitas, an emotional power, which I think is the essence of great music.
–Paul J. Comeau (25 Diamonds, [email protected])