Released: 2014, Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
The second solo album from guitarist Andy Wood is unlike the solo outings from most rock/metal guitarists. Sure there's plenty of instrumental dazzle and prowess on display - just not in the way we've come to expect. For one thing, Caught Between The Truth and A Lie is actually a double album. For another, there really ain't a whole lot of “metal” - or even electricity - to be found here.
But, first, if you're wondering “just who in the hell is Andy Wood?” No worries. He certainly is not the most household of names, having performed with Knoxville, Tenn.'s, Down From Up and as lead guitarist for Creed blowhard Scott Stapp's solo band. But don't hold that against him, Wood can play his ass off. And he does so in a playful, sometimes subtle and distinctly passionate manner that honors the influences if his surroundings – all of which sets this album well apart from the spark-flying wankery we've all heard a thousands times already.
The bulk of this expansive, 24-song outing is far more country and bluegrass oriented than anything even resembling rock - to the point where Wood's Caribbean-flavored acoustic cover of Led Zeppelin's “Fool In The Rain” features a mandolin mimicking Robert Plant's vocal lines. It isn't until disc two gets rolling that Wood busts out an electric guitar and shows his hard rock/metal chops - and he does so with restraint, letting rip on but a handful of songs.
The “unplugged” disc one, aka “The Truth,” kicks off in full hoe-down mode, with the traditional country and western pickin' and 'grinnin' of “Everybody Loves You,” which features a vocal accompaniment, and “The Truth… (A Lie),” which folds banjo, mandolin and some serious fiddlin' into the mix and is decidedly more bluegrass. This stuff is the authentic, old school deal, too. Wood steadfastly avoids any modern pop conventions - even on the half-dozen or so songs with guest vocals - that might play to the mainstream. Anyone who's got old Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard or Doc Watson in their collection - and plenty of metalheads do - will appreciate this.
The “plugged in” second disc, aka “The Lie,” opens with the bluesy “Reach” and the electrified squall of Wood's slow-burn, Robin Trower-like leadwork. “(The Truth…) A Lie” offers a more progressive take, and a bit more fiery soloing. “Tokyo” is all-out metal in its riffing and tempo, but his harmonized soloing is sweeping and almost delicate. “Dracula and His Cooky, Spooky Band,” however, is punctuated by horns and a blaring sax solo as Wood embarks on a brief jazz odyssey.
He gets rocking again with “Of Elf and Man,” which is big, loud and brash, with layer upon layer of guitar and lots of shuffling percussion. But he then switches gears to the melancholy sparseness of “The Hardest Goodbye,” before going full-metal one last time with “The Four Horsemen,” which has a Countdown To Extinction-era Megadeth sound and feel to its crisp hooks and squealing leads.
Wood sends the album off into the sunset on countrified note, though with an electric tinge, with “The Ballad of Ricky and Cal” and “Sugar Hill Road” - with some sweet pedal steel guitar – and the somber western blues of “The Cowboy Rides Away,” bringing things full circle and ending with a flourish.
Caught Between The Truth and A Lie is the kind of work that could – indeed should – really put Wood on the map. It's adventurous and impressive, and something altogether different that is worth investigating for guitar fans who’ve had it up to here with the same old Malmsteen/Satriani worship.