Austin Meadows Wilkerson – The Old Wood

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson

I wonder if there’s a better theme for a progressive contemporary orchestral suite than the deep dark woods?  The Old Wood takes us on a dramatic journey through mysterious leaf-strewn winding paths and curious dark hollows, with Kentucky composer/songwriter Austin Meadows Wilkerson very much leading the way.  The eleven pieces are woven together with dramatic tension by a group of classically trained musicians, whose expressive piano motifs, sweeping strings and celestial harp flurries enhance the guitar-based compositions.  The song titles themselves give us a sense of the journey ahead before a single note has been struck, with “Old Forest Road”, “Bed of Leaves”, “The Deepening Wood” and “The Heart of the Wood”, guiding our way.  If the inventive arrangements are reminiscent of the Progressive Rock albums of the 1970s, complete with Roger Dean gate fold sleeves, then The Old Wood offers an updated slant on the genre, with rich chamber orchestrations, Beach Boys SMiLE-period harmonies and an emotive near falsetto vocal expressing the stories throughout, stories and sounds that evoke the spirit of the woods in question.  This is one of those albums that should be heard in full; forty-eight minutes of invention, texture, commitment and care.