The Steel Woods' fourth album pays tribute to their late co-founder, Jason "Rowdy" Cope while taking listeners on a poignant journey delivering a powerful blend of Southern rock with a timeless twist.
The Steel Woods, a renowned Southern rock band, have endeared themselves to fans with their powerful tunes and heartfelt lyrics across their last three albums. Their latest work, On Your Time, takes listeners on a journey inspired by the character Uncle Lloyd, introduced in their debut album Straw in the Wind in 2017. This album showcases their musical growth, storytelling skills, and pays tribute to their co-founder, Jason "Rowdy" Cope, who sadly passed away just before their third album was released in 2021.
Led by Wes Bayliss, guitarist, lead vocalist, and co-founder, the Steel Woods have poured their hearts and souls into this album, creating a record that reflects their strength, evolution, and unwavering spirit.
From their beginnings in Nashville in 2016, the band have breathed new life into timeless themes like self-reliance, hard work, family, and faith, reinvigorating the spirit of Southern rock pioneers like Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers. Their first three albums merged country sincerity with elements of class struggle and geographic adversity, occasionally punctuated by heavy metal guitar riffs, creating a sound uniquely their own.
The Steel Woods aren't just chasing fame; they're on a quest for meaning, connection, and their musical tribe. Founding members Jason “Rowdy” Cope and Wes Bayliss forged their unbreakable bond over fishing trips in 2015, despite a significant age difference. Their meeting was the realization of Cope's long-held dream to make music that truly mattered, a dream he had nurtured during his time touring with country star Jamey Johnson.
Their musical journey took them from supporting acts like Miranda Lambert, Skynyrd, and Dwight Yoakam to headlining their own tours. Their music even found a place on Taylor Sheridan's hit TV show Yellowstone, which showcased their songs, "Axe" and "Blind Lover."
However, tragedy struck when Cope passed away from diabetic complications in January 2021, just days after they submitted All of Your Stones for release. Faced with the challenging decision of whether to continue without a key member, co-founder Wes Bayliss knew he had to persevere, both to honor Cope's legacy and because it was what Rowdy would have wanted.
Over the next year, Bayliss, along with longtime bassist Johnny Stanton and guitarist Tyler Powers, began considering their next album. They decided to move forward, maintaining their tradition of releasing an album every two years. Bayliss wrote several new songs, drawing inspiration from his experiences as a father of four.
The new album tackles the challenges of writing without Cope and introduces a complex narrative involving the character of Uncle Lloyd. Some songs continue Uncle Lloyd's story, while others explore what happens when one does not follow his life as a role model. The album offers a diverse range of tracks, from the dramatic "Devil in the Holler" to the modern retelling of the Adam and Eve story in "Famine and Fortune."
Additionally, the album includes two emotionally charged cover songs: Gretchen Peters’ “You Don't Know Who I Am” and Kris Kristofferson’s eerie “Border Lord,” adding depth to the album's narrative.
Despite the difficulties of moving forward without Cope, Bayliss remains dedicated to upholding the Steel Woods' vision. He continues to draw inspiration from the lessons learned during his partnership with the man and his own life experiences. On Your Time represents a new chapter in the band's journey, a testament to their resilience, and a continuation of the legacy they are determined to carry forward.