Woods hadn't planned to make any new music in 2017, happy to rest temporarily on the laurels of last year's excellent City Sun Eater In The River Of Light. Then the election happened, and the Brooklyn band found itself — like many around the country — bewildered about what to do next. So it did what it knows best: it made more music. The songs on the resulting album, Love Is Love, don't directly reference politics or offer slogans or screeds. But they're clearly about the aftermath of Nov. 9, 2016, and figuring out how to live with a new reality.
On "Bleeding Blue," which sounds as if it was written on the morning after the election, that new reality hits singer Jeremy Earl hard: "The city's not sleeping in today / Have you heard the news? / Hate can't lose." But he soon decides the answer is to focus on love, to an almost Zen degree (hence the simple tautology of the album's title). "I heard a voice inside me say / If we want love, hate can't stay," he sings with reverent energy. That lyric is followed by a majestic trumpet line that recurs throughout the tune, a triumphant, Beatles-like flourish that serves as a musical analogue to Earl's epiphany.
Woods has made uplifting music before, but such bold positivity represents a level of grandiosity the band hasn't previously visited. But among all the crescendos and Earl's soaring voice, "Bleeding Blue" still feels grounded by the band's elemental folk-rock sway. You could easily imagine Earl and his bandmates hammering this tune out in a garage, opening the door every so often to let a brass section in. As to whether their mission to stand up for love can combat the forces of hate, only time will tell — but it's heartening, even therapeutic, to hear them try.
Love Is Love comes out April 21 via Woodsist.