There were lofty expectations in place for The Steel Woods’ highly anticipated record On Your Time, and now that it’s out, it’s safe to say they have exceeded them.
The Nashville band’s fourth full record, and first record recorded since the tragic, unexpected passing of lead guitarist, co-founder, and alt-country legend Jason “Rowdy” Cope at just 42 years old in 2021, On Your Time is a heavy project carried on by co-founder and frontman Wes Bayliss.
While it’s hard to say whether or not any of the music is directly about Cope, it’s obvious that his influence, and the magnitude of his untimely death, weigh heavily on the record, and in the best way possible. A collection of songs that he would undoubtedly be proud of, Bayliss has carried on The Steel Woods in an impressive way, given the circumstances.
The majority of the album comes from the point of view of Uncle Lloyd, a troubled character introduced in their song “Uncle Lloyd” from their 2017 debut record Straw in the Wind. With introspective songwriting and storytelling told through the lens of this character’s misfortunes, struggles, and perspective, the heavy song content is backed by the perfect mix of steel soaked country music and guitar slinging rock, a sound that has placed The Steel Woods’ on a pedestal of southern music.
Loaded with allegory that will conjure deep thought and imagery that allows the listener to paint their own picture of the scenes and stories in their mind, On Your Time is a fantastic record that showcases Bayliss’ songwriting expertise, as well as that of the other talented musicians who contributed to the record. All in all, it purely captures The Steel Woods’ iconic sound into 10 potent tracks that will forever occupy an important time within The Steel Woods’ lore, carrying on the band’s tradition at a time when that may have been difficult but likely more important than ever.
Give The Steel Woods’ fourth studio record On Your Time a deep dive for yourself, here’s a few early favorites:
“The Man From Everywhere”
“So I run and I hide I see what I can find But I’m never satisfied Maybe I’m just bad at chasing dreams All the good I’ve ever had’s a memory I can’t pack it up so I just up and leave it there The man from everywhere…”
“Devil in the Holler”
“I find my pride at the end of the day My kids and my bride are why I live this way Hand in hand at the table Thank God for one more night If I wake up in the morning, I’ll be ready for the fight
There’s a devil in this holler, there’s evil in these hills I’m just trying to make a dollar ’cause I’ve got to pay my bills There might be gold on this mountain, but there’s fire on the ground Yeah, there’s a devil in this holler, but he ain’t gonna pull me down…”
“On Your Time”
“The scars on your boots, show you where you’ve been Help you remember, Don’t go there again Now there’s more than one road, but no easy way You won’t always know the right words to say
But don’t make it too hard whenever you can And don’t be ashamed when you don’t understand If you don’t take it from me, you’ll be just fine It’s just one of those lessons you’ll learn on your time…”
“Breakin’ any ties before they bind you Taking any comfort you can find Running like you’re running out of time Take it all, till it’s over-understanding When you’re headed for the border lord You’re bound to cross the line…”
“If Not for the Rain”
“I thought I’d be better as soon as my feet hit the floor The sun through my window don’t wake me up anymore It feels like forever when you’re caught in bad weather Tomorrow is so far away But nothing gets done with your hand on the gun Thinking about yesterday…”
The Steel Woods in their current form consists of Bayliss, guitarist Tyler Powers, drummer Stephen Taylor, and bassist Johnny Stanton.
While their performance on the album is incredible, it’s their live show that has really garnered the band such a large following, so get out there and see them live as they hit the road in support of On Your Time.