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Wooden Wand: Death Seat

C

Wooden Wand

Album: Death Seat
Label: Young God

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James Jackson Toth’s solo work and his recordings as Wooden Wand once occupied different times and spaces. But with Death Seat, Wooden Wand’s Young God debut, Toth has shed the psychedelics of that project’s prior releases and replaced it with the rugged songcraft of Waiting In Vain, the lackluster album he released under his own name in 2008. No matter what moniker he slaps on himself, though, one fact remains: As a self-consciously serious singer-songwriter, Toth consistently underwhelms. As with Waiting In Vain, Death Seat showcases Toth’s evocative, starkly poetic lyrics. “They painted his house the color of skin / So if the situation called for it, he could blend in,” he sings on “Bobby,” and it’s just one of dozens of vivid couplets that Toth tosses out effortlessly. But neither his voice nor his music effectively convey any of those bleak, morbidly witty themes. Instead, he blandly croaks his way through even his most captivating lyrics, rendering them as nothing more than guttural wallpaper. A bit of the old Wooden Wand magic crops up in tracks like “Servant To Blues,” a singsong seesaw that cuts through Toth’s hookless, featureless folk-rock with eerie strings and a bracing blast of noise. Then it’s back to business—and boredom—as usual.