woensdag 1 februari 2017

Ghost Light. Royal Wood

Royal Wood mostly is a name to me. No matter how many shows I've seen in Q-Bus, the shows of Royal Wood there I missed all of them. He has an unlikely fan. One of my hardrock and metal loving buddies is a great fan and has seen Wood play many a time.

Things have changed, for me that is. With the album Ghost Light, Royal Wood has entered my life and it seems he's here to stay for a while. So why now? Good question.

Royal Wood comes from Canada and resides in Toronto. Ghost Light is his 9th release, having started his career with the release of the EP 'The Milkweed' in 2003. It's not hard to put him into a singer-songwriter category, where people in the past have likened him to Randy Newman and Jeff Buckley among others. Serious pop music is another moniker that defines his music. His influences don't wear thin on this record, while Wood has definitely found his own voice. In fact, he played nearly all the instruments on this album himself, aided in the process by co-producer Bill Lefler.

I'd like to compare him to two more obscure artists that find their way to this blog regularly. Although Royal Wood's voice is slightly deeper, Shane Alexander comes to mind straight away when I hear a song like 'Til The Morning Comes'. The same sweetness massages its way into my ears. Patrick Joseph approaches his music in a very serious way, a likeness that is found on Ghost Light as well. It's a way of making music that appeals to me.

Within these parameters Royal Wood manages to give his songs very different, distinct sounds. Simply by changing the lead instrument and the way a song is dressed up. A full band or just selected instruments that also work in a rhythm that allows for lots of space. Just listen to the difference between the opening song 'A World Between Us', a beautiful ballad led by a piano and an ever fuller sound behind it, including a solid sounding drum and the mandolin driven, almost happy sounding 'I'm Gonna Marry You'. The difference between the two songs is huge, yet make Ghost Light so much fun to listen to: the diversity coupled to quality. Royal Wood is a songsmith who, I'm certain, is not happy with the obvious when he's finished writing a song. That is the moment when the searching and puzzling starts, is my guess, to come up with the best possible version of a song he can muster.

So there's a hint at folk or country on Ghost Light but it is the light form of poprock that comes through most. Although I can't suppress singing "I was travelling to the North Country fair" when hearing the guitar intro to 'Til The Morning Comes', this feel is an exception. It is the smooth sound of songs like 'I Still Believe' that have the overtones. Just listen to some of the beautiful changes in the song and at least I am sold. Chances are, that if you're into this kind of music, you are to. That leads me to the final comparison I'd like to make. In 2015 I was greatly surprised by City and Colour's last album. Towards the end of Ghost Light the atmosphere 'If I Should Die Before You' spreads is invoked more and more. The soft side of my love of music is tickled in all the right places.

So there you have it. Ghost Light is the right album to listen to when I truly want to listen to music. To relax with music. The obvious fun of a song like 'Morning Light' really hits home when listened to with full attention. Ghost Light is the kind of album that deserves just that.


You can listen to 'Long Way Out' here:


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