Wood’s nimble fingering and muscular sense of rhythm lend his songs an irresistible swing, but it’s his butterscotch-smooth tenor – flirting, cajoling, scolding, teasing – that truly makes this album engaging. While jazz purists and blues hardliners may dismiss Wood’s sound as easy listening, I’m betting that producer Adam Levy — best known as Norah Jones’ guitarist – came on board specifically to win Charlie Wood more of a crossover audience (hence the eclectic choice of covers). That’s a tough leap to make, but this album could be the springboard for Wood to find the wider audience he deserves.
Charlie Wood’s music isn’t driven by social commentary or personal confession; it doesn’t strive to be provocative or profound. What it does have is consummate musicianship, tight arrangements, and songs that’ll lift your spirits –- and all that is intentional. Wood finally declares his musical manifesto in the album’s last track, simply titled “A Song” – a ready-made jazz standard, something I could easily hear sung by Harry Connick Jr. or Ben Sidran (not coincidentally, one of Charlie Wood’s champions). “Before everyone got indoctrinated,” Wood sings wistfully, “Before everything had been bought and sold / Remember how music intoxicated? / How it got in your heart and your head and took hold?” He’s clever to wait until the last track before laying out his creed — by then he’s proven that he has the musical chops to intoxicate us whenever he wants.