Bluesy folk duo Roman and Alaina Wood released their second album Last Forest in
the City last month, unintentionally, from a bomb shelter in Israel. The
married, adventurous couple of three years was backpacking through the country
for seven weeks and during their first week was staying in a friend’s spare
room/shelter. They were eager to put their hard work online.
family values kind of thing,” explains 25-year-old singer/songwriter Alaina, of
the album, which they recorded in Los Angeles, California, their most recent
home, with friend and producer Drew Allsberock.
With Roman, 31, on
guitar, harmonica and vocals with his wife, Last Forest in the City
subtle harmonies and poetic lyrics that draw on their personal experiences of
growing up in broken homes, the struggles to keep a marriage and family
together, and looking to their more recent past, the joys of falling in
“Two people become one and everything changes,” he
Most of all, Roman, a native of Seattle, Washington, says,
listeners from troubled backgrounds should feel they’re not alone in their
painful situation. “Let it be a stepping stone,” Alaina says, rather than an
insurmountable barrier to the future.
The second album’s moral and
religious themes, and more mainstream tone, build on the more overtly religious
feel on Sounds of Prayer (2009), they say, their first album, which features the
words from Jewish prayers like “Modeh Ani,” ultra-catchy “Hashem Open My Lips,”
and “Oseh Shalom,” and original lyrics on “Birth of the King.” If the first
album showcased the Messianic Jewish couple inside the synagogue, Roman says
is them living outside.
“This is us in the marketplace,” he
“We live normal human being lives, we have normal human being
struggles and at the same time we want to see the world [become] a better
Religion inspires their music, and is a core value in their
lives. In addition, many of their fans are Messianic Jews, but Roman and Alaina,
who came to their faith together, don’t want to be pigeonholed.
will quickly put you into a box and associate you with evangelicals or something
like that, and it’s not like that; it’s Judaism. People keep Shabbat, guys put
on tefillin in the morning,” Roman says, adding that followers of Messianic
Judaism maintain a range of Jewish practice. “It’s a very complicated movement
yet at the same time it’s lots of sincere hearts.”
The couple met in a
recording studio in Nashville, Tennessee, while Alaina was studying music at
Belmont University, and Roman was being mentored at a recording studio in town.
Alaina came in to record some tracks, and Roman’s mentor thought his pupil’s
voice would sound great beside Alaina’s. They sang together almost every day,
and have since traveled the US, and now Israel, with their heartfelt
Roman and Alaina performed at Off the Wall and Mike’s Place in
Jerusalem, and even “busted out” on Ben Yehuda Street.
They plan to
promote the album through performances at upcoming folk festivals in the
Alaina, a laid-back blonde who exudes warmth, says she grew up
singing in choir and dancing, and always dreamed of moving to Nashville, the
country music capital of the world. Roman, curly-haired and with an easy smile,
says he only started playing guitar around age 21, but says pretty much everyone
in his family is a musician.
Until about six years ago, he played guitar
and sang in the messianic, retro acoustic duo Meha Shamayim with Leonardo Bella.
Before folk, Roman had a passion for hip hop, and grew up involved in Seattle’s
vibrant hip hop scene.
“It’s eventually gonna come out in some way,” he
says, laughing, of his hop hop past mixing with his folky guitar.
in Israel, the couple has traveled and hiked all around the country, and as
self-proclaimed foodies, say they have fallen in love with the Mahane Yehuda
shuk and the top-notch coffee (high praise from a Seattle native, a city famous
for its coffee). On the spiritual side, Roman and Alaina have found solace and
spirituality in the Shlomo Carlebach- style synagogues they have
“We’re leaving with a lot inspiration,” Alaina says.