Edison Woods – Seven Principles of Leave No Trace

Edison Woods
Seven Principles of Leave No Trace

Primarily the musical focus of singer/multi-instrumentalist Julia Frodahl, Edison Woods appears to be as much about mood and texture as music. With a full compliment of strings (violin, cello, etc.), harmonium and piano, and more traditional rock instruments backing up Frodahl’s lovely voice, these songs take on a life all their own, a life of dark winter days and smoke-filled rooms.
Only the band’s second album, Seven Principles of Leave No Trace is a fine work, showing new direction and maturing songwriting. Frodahl’s voice often plays a more prominent role than on the band’s debut, and yet she knows when to let the sweet strings and moody bass flow on their own. Despite its soft pace and textured approach, this is the kind of album that should be listened to loudly and on good equipment. The production is perfect, and repeated listens will bring out subtle but vital sounds on almost every song.
The album opens with the lush “Secrets,” which uses gorgeous moody strings and hints of recorded vocals to create something very sultry and smooth. Some songs evoke the subtle, slow-core style of bands like Low or Mojave 3. “Was He a Poet” is a good example of a track that makes more use of guitars and drums than many others here, taking it in a more rock direction. Perhaps the album’s most detailed track, it also drifts down softly, with the vocals not kicking in until nearly the five-minute mark. The beautiful mix of strings and piano shine on the lovely title track.
At the heart of this project is Frodahl’s voice. There’s a Cat Power feel to “Muted Thunderstorms,” a lovely, lilting ballad, but the textured music in the background – samples, perhaps, electronic or organic is hard to tell – gives the song its depth and intrigue. Her voice gets haunting – and what sounds like a saw adds to that tone – on “Like a Jewel” and sweet on the lovely, moving “Shirts for Pennies.”
Production is important, but Edison Woods is more than just music. The mood comes out in the production and the packaging as well. It took me several listens before I realized, upon opening the case, there is a real black feather under the CD tray, a subtle but poignant touch. This is a lovely album, full of soft and moody music perfect for the long winters, and it’s a fine work from musicians still improving and growing their art.