The Wooden Sky - Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun
Whether it's Mountains, Geese, John Candy or Hockey - all good things come out of Canada, and that's indisputable. When it comes to music you'll not have to delve too far to discover just how potent that is too, so it's completely logical to trust that Toronto's The Wooden Sky will enthral just as much. Formed in 2003, the quintet has released two records previous to their forthcoming effort Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun. The Wooden Sky have a rich mat of connections; this record and the album before were produced by Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, British Sea Power) and they are regularly joined on tour by members of The Rural Alberta Advantage, Mars Volta, and Timber Timbre. Though already having been touted around the blogosphere, records of this ilk really do require a fine-toothed comb – I'll be that comb.
Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun begins with a solitary acoustic guitar, accompanied by softly delivered questions – that is, until Gavin Gardiner tells you that "You're not a stone" which is responded to by warming backing vocals, and a non-committing piano. 'Child Of The Valley' becomes flesh and bones when it is told to, boasting sharp guitar lines that amicably juxtapose delicate placing of violin and currents of drums. Soon enough 'Angelina' begins and the force in which Andrew Kekewich strikes his snare brings a smile to my face. As far as the narrative goes it is weaker than its predecessor, but it insists in the same way an American Country Standard would; sweetly swollen with pride.
A trait which continues throughout the record is depicted here with 'Dancing At My Window'. There's an onus on breathing space, not only in terms of tracklisting but songwriting too; the metaphor of darkness and perspective is ostracising in an intelligent way – sometimes a respect for your audience is shown in not telling too much.
"It gets old to be alone" is a lyric, track title, and mantra on Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun. Many of the more encapsulating tales told on the record possess this as poignant dialogue, whilst it is repeated like a hammer on a nail on a Sunday Morning throughout the song 'It Gets Old To Be Alone'. The similar lyric "I'm too old to be alone" hits you like a cannon ball to the chest on the last chorus. These moments of beautiful instrumental work and subtle vocal performances allow The Wooden Sky to dance between genres without any alien feeling at all. 'Malibu Rum' takes your car to valet whilst you're cradled in a hammock and 'Take Me Out' rockets you into a 50s diner.
You can only really become familiar with a record's peaks and troughs after numerous listens. There are plenty of distant acknowledgements, peculiar accounts, and haunting lines on this album, but 'Bald, Naked and Red' releases real tension. The moment where Gardiner yells, "We're all these miles apart, but you're still in my head" to a symphony of arpeggiated guitar lines and spluttered cymbals, may just be the defining moment of Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun. There's warmth in both instrumentation and ultimately, texture throughout the album. It's difficult to really engross brass into a recording without going on parade, but with the accompanying organs, sustained backing vocals and the entrancing guitar work all working in tandem so perfectly, there's real room to manoeuvre, and the songs to grow from. 'City Of Light' wouldn't progress so naturally without this approach.
'The Night Goes On And On' tells a bitter tale of an estranging relationship. There are pleas to the lover, Sarah, for forgiveness, whilst he tries to make light of the situation. The song's lyrical content is pitted against twee tonality and spacious, relaxed deliveries, impacting on how you react to the song-writing – it feels very much like the ending to Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun. Whilst there are releases of tension in 'I'm Your Man', the reprise to 'Angelina' is feels very much like the final moments before a deep sleep; you make a dreary collage of the day, asking yourself the question 'Is that truth, or is that in my head?'
"Hang on to me, for I'm the only chance you've got, to set your body free and keep you from falling" is the first lyric I scribbled down after my premiere listen, and it's a really beautiful place for the album to end. An unprocessed commodity that glistens with unkempt emotion, The Wooden Sky have written an album which is beyond their years. Gardiner splutters stories as you perch on his knee. Sometimes he becomes a little difficult to understand so your eyes drift and you can't help but admire the carpentry of the porch, but soon enough he yells his concerns as openly as the moonshine dictates, and you can't ignore him. This is a folk album which possesses intelligence; it won't interest the majority, but treat it with respect and you'll reap the rewards.