Those in the Northern Hemisphere will believe that the timing of this album is off, while those in the Southern Hemisphere will consider it perfect. But since Cameron Webb (Seaworthy) left an Australian summer to record in a New York winter, it’s only fair that the release date coincides with the start of the Australian winter.
Last year the entire New York region was pounded by Hurricane Sandy, and the area is still dealing with the aftermath, from downed trees to drowned coasts. At one time I lived near Pound Ridge, where this album was recorded, and now I live near the coast. Although the locations are two hours away, we’ve experienced the same winter and the same storms, including a late season blizzard. To me, Wood Winter Hollow sounds like home, but it also sounds like hope.
It’s fun to think about Taylor Deupree tromping around the snow-covered nature preserve near his own home with a shivering Australian visitor and bundles of recording equipment. “Look, Cameron, there’s the splintered oak that came down during Sandy; and this is where the river crested.” Field recordings are a strong presence throughout the recording, augmented by Webb’s nylon string guitar and occasional bells and melodica. Sometimes the album sounds as if it is crackling like ice, other times melting, anticipating the spring thaw. Footsteps echo on packed snow. As the press release indicates, there’s a warmth to this cold, made even more apparent by the tenderness of the music.
Nature will survive everything it endures, seeking equilibrium. The forest doesn’t stop to mourn its losses, but moves on; new life emerges from the hollows as fallen leaves feed the soil and melting snow reinvigorates the streams. As much as humans resist change, nature incorporates it. This may seem scant comfort to those who have endured nature’s fury, but nature can also be benign. Deeper meditation reveals that nature displays no intention in either direction, despite our projections.
Wood Winter Hollow implies that beauty can be found in the aftermath, in the recovery, in the calm consideration of all that has been lost and not lost. The rains will return, but they will not always bring flooding; the snow will fall, but often only in a hush. Even a fire can clear the way for new seeds. The seasons may change, but the cycles remain. (Richard Allen)