Review: The Wooden Sky – Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun
Published on March 6th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
The buzz… Toronto country-folk-rock outfit release third full-length studio album, recorded at Montreal’s Hotel 2 Tango (where Arcade Fire’s Funeral was recorded) with Howard Bilerman and Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, with subsequent sessions recorded in “various spots in Ontario and Quebec: studios (Lincoln County Social Club), apartments, lofts, churches and a farm in rural Quebec”. In the words of singer Gavin Gardiner…
“After two years out on the road, it seems everyone had their eyes and ears open searching for new textures to play with… It didn’t take long for the record to increase in scope. What began as a simple collection of nine songs quickly ballooned into an eighteen-song opus; thirteen songs ended up making the record. It did come dangerously close to being a double album.”
Of the various locations used for sessions, he said: “Everywhere seemed to offer new possibilities, and limitations. At the time it was a lot of work lugging all that gear around but each space seemed to bring its own energy to the song. There were times in the summer we’d race back to the farm after a show to record all night. It was exciting and that kind creative explosion seemed to carry us through.”
“Child of the Valley”
Sounds like… A comforting, highly polished and quietly ambitious statement of intent. Opener “Child of the Valley” wastes no time in setting the mood by kicking off with a dolefully warbled “they came all the way from Tennessee”, its folk-y strumming, country-like vocals and reverb-drenched atmospherics doing a sterling job of melding various genres to create something still organic-sounding. The gorgeous string section at the end sounds like redemption, salvation, a bright new dawn; you know, all the good stuff. It’s a lush, welcoming beginning, and it goes from strength to strength.
The stately, gently lolloping “Angelina” packs the kind of big ol’ singalong chorus that pegs this five-piece down as sheer naturals, its weary, contemplative vibe overriding the suggestions of ‘power ballad’ provided by the echo chamber-esque production, while “Dancing at My Window” and “It Gets Old to Be Alone” shimmer and glow something beautiful, managing to be melodic and heartfelt without being overly emotive.
“It Gets Old to Be Alone”
As strong middle-sections go, the sweetly ambient “Malibu Rum”, expertly conceived “Take Me Out” (not nearly as stomping as the Franz Ferdinand song of the same name) and downtrodden yet elating “Bald Naked and Red” make for a really rather arresting one-two-three hit; in fact, they might very well be the album’s strongest songs, so while there is joy to be had in the lyrical intimacy of “Your Fight Will Not Be Long” and ace, twiddly guitar hammer-ons of “The Night Goes On and On”, there is a sense that the album has peaked. No shame in that, given that it’s The Wooden Sky that overshadowed themselves.
As Gardiner intones on curtain-closer “Hang on To Me”, “I’m working on a sequel”; let’s hope so, because this is a band with a lot to offer, provided country-style singing doesn’t bring you out in a rash.
In a few words… Graceful, comforting, ambitious yet understated and light of touch. A frequently beautiful record.
Kind of like a cross between… Calexico – Feast of Wire and Beulah – Yoko
Rocksucker says: Seven and a Half Quails out of Ten!