Ways Not to Lose contains wonderfully crafted, soulful, folk-blues compositions. The fact that Chris Wood is a member of Medeski, Martin and Wood probably helped spread the word about the album, but the shining light here is Oliver’s extremely witty, brilliant songwriting.
Oliver writes with a very distinctive elder knowledge that many of the younger songwriters lack. He knows how to create a perfect balance of comedy and tragedy, and Chris knows just how to accompany it. Album highlight “Tried and Tempted” emphasizes life’s wrong-doing temptations in the vein of a mature blues singer, and “Chocolate on My Tongue” touches on life’s smaller pleasures.
Ways Not to Lose is far more than a Chris Wood side project: It’s one of the more pleasurable records I heard in 2006, a year that was marked by bands that took themselves too seriously.