Music Review: That Wet and Woody Sound

by Angie Mack Reilly

(Grammar is intentional)

I did a lot of writing, arranging and recording in the late 90s and 2000s alongside performing with and directing other musicians several times a week as a gospel musician.   I  remember trying to describe the music that I gravitated toward at the time.

“Wet and Woody”.

(I often speak in metaphors.)  That was the most well thought out and then condensed answer that I could come up with at the time.

I tried to create the sound when I self-produced one of my original singles, “I Used To Love The Musicals” (not available online right now)

Miles has that “wet” sound…

(Many people don’t realize that Miles Davis is considered to be a better jazz musician than Louis Armtrong.)  

……meaning, it flows. Not a lot of breaks.  Smooth.  Almost like a needle seamlessly gliding along some shiny smooth vinyl. Hopefully you get the point. (Did I just create a pun?)

The Doors have it to a point. (ooooo I did it again..)

Kenny G.  The Outfield.  Chicago. Christopher Cross. (Early influences of mine in the 80s.) Lionel Richie. George Michael.  Steve Perry.  All smooth tenor sounds. As much as I am going to make my fellow musicians gag, I was actually obsessed with smooth jazz at the time.  You will hear influences of smooth jazz in my albums, “Comfort My People” and “Momentum”. And a million major 7th chords.

Electronic.  Yes, even drums.  (again, as my fellow musicians are cringing….But keep in mind, guys, that I was a stay-at-home mom without a car and three little boys close in age by my side.  I couldn’t go out for a late night band practice with other musicians nor hire any to record live for me.   My budget was zip.  zero.  There was field trip money to be paid.  For three boys.  And lunch money.  And groceries.  Honest.  Tight times.  So I produced the music anyhow……with the best that I had and in the best way that I could at the time.) 

Tangent over.

Wait.  There’s something to be said about someone who is willing to risk embarassment for the sake of carrying a message.

Back to “wet and woody”.  The woody part?  What I meant is “like wood”.  Wooden drums.  Tribal.  Also, think rain-forest sounds.  When I think of a healing environment, I think of a rain-forest.  Wet.  Lush. Fresh. Green. Wood.  (haha)

Franklin has this seamless “wet and woody” sound ….

It’s like water.

That type of sound that one can swim in and lose track of time in.

That type of sound that one can put on auto-play and let wash over them.

The type of song that

has a ripple effect and

is destined to expand with time.

The humanity and frailty in Franklin’s voice and melodies are most hauntingly beautiful and authentic.  Talk about someone who had a rough life from the get-go.  And yet he creates music like THIS?  Miraculous.  That’s what I call it.  “Touched”.

(There’s something to be said about listening to music that is touched.)

I just tossed a pebble.

Perhaps comfort for those who need to be comforted.


I dedicate this post to someone who taught me directly and indirectly about art and spirituality.  Thank you Mark David Gray.

PHOTO CREDIT: “He Leadeth Me Beside Still Waters” by Angie Mack Reilly, 2016.  Taken at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

More Photos


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