The wide variety of musical genres contained on the Wildwood Ruminators sophomore effort is unintentional but a direct reflection of the diverse backgrounds of the five musicians in the band.
“Elemental” also is the first album to feature the expanded lineup that came together last summer.
The Wildwood Ruminators include Eddie Martin on vocals and percussion, Tony Lee and John Jackson on acoustic and electric guitars, Malcolm Singleton on drums and rhythm guitar and Bill Williams on electric and acoustic bass.
“That is the biggest difference between that first project and this project,” Martin said.
Lee said work on “Elemental” began last summer.
“All the tracking was done at Jimmy Nutt’s studio,” Lee said, referring to the The NuttHouse Recording Studio in downtown Sheffield.
Vocal overdubs were done at Daniel Beard’s Musiek Entertainment in Harvest. Beard also added percussion to three tracks.
Keyboards were recorded at Kelvin Wooten’s Woodaworx Studio in Athens.
Wooten, the keyboard player in Eric Essix’s band, played keys on 10 tracks.
Florence musician Robert “Scooter” Muse was called in to play banjo on “In The Wildwood,” while guitarist Barry Billings played slide guitar on “Shadows.”
The artwork for the CD cover, a gnarled tree of life, is courtesy of Florence artist Tim Stevenson. Album graphics came courtesy of artist Victoria Antoine.
“One of the things we’re really proud of is the North Alabama connection,” Lee said.
Martin said he co-wrote all 12 songs with Lee and Jackson, except for one song born from a band rehearsal. All five members of the band were involved in the musical arrangements.
“Every one of us contributed to the record,” Lee said. “All five of us.”
Martin said the songwriting is something that distinguishes the band from others and each band member’s ability to be mutually supportive of one another, whether they were a co-writer or not.
“They wrap themselves around it creatively as much as they would if they were the co-writer on it,” Martin said. “The lack of ego is amazing to be a part of.”
“Elemental” features tracks with hints of pop, rock, blues, gospel and even uptown jazz.
“I don’t know if it was actually intentional,” Martin said. “It just is what it is. We come from various musical backgrounds of influence.”
The band never sits down with the intention of writing say, a “country ballad,” then come back the next week and write a funky, jam oriented song.
“We don’t do that,” he said. “It just happens.”
Martin said the tracks “Without The One I Love” and “Meet Me In New York (Our Last Hurrah)” demonstrate the variety of music on “Elemental.”
“Without The One I Love” is a “really sad song” that cuts right to the heart of the matter, Martin explains, while “Meet Me In New York” oozes an urban jazz feel courtesy of Williams’ suggestion of adding a trumpet. Jazz trumpeter Ken Watters was called in to fill that role, Martin said.
“You don’t get more diverse than those two songs,” Martin said.
Lee said the album is everything the band hoped it would be.
“We’re proud of it,” he said.
Martin said he doesn’t have a favorite song on the album.
I absolutely love the entire project,” Martin said. “It represents more to me as a creative person, knowing what processes went into it and the level of commitment from the band, the sacrifices everybody made to get the music where it is.”
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.