|The Wooden Sky||Swimming In Strange Waters|
The Wooden Sky — Swimming In Strange Waters (Mar 21, 2017) → Swimming in Strange Waters is powerful and delicate — an album to both listen to and draw from for years to come.
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Genre: Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Folk, Alt~Country, Singer~Songwriter
Album release: March 21, 2017
Record Label: Nevado Music
01. Swimming In Strange Waters
02. Life Is Pain, Pain Is Beauty
03. You’re Not Alone
04. Deadhorse Creek
05. Born To Die
06. Black Gold
07. Riding On The Wind
08. Matter Of Time
09. Glory Hallelujah
→ An indie folk band whose music is dynamic, literate, and informed by equal shares of joy and sorrow, the Wooden Sky were formed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada by Gavin Gardiner, a vocalist and guitarist who was attending Ryerson University. In 2003, Gardiner had written a batch of songs for a class project and needed a band to play them. Gardiner joined forces with bassist Andrew Wyatt and drummer Chris Cocca, and the combo began playing in and around Toronto using the name Friday Morning’s Regret. By 2007, they had changed their name to the Wooden Sky and released their debut album, When Lost at Sea. By 2009, when the Wooden Sky dropped their second album, If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone, the group had gone through some lineup shakeups; Chris Cocca had left, and the Wooden Sky had three new members, Peter Krpan (bass, drums, and percussion), Mika Posen (violin), and Simon Walker (keyboards, mandolin, and guitar). The ambitious sophomore album received enthusiastic notices from critics, and was nominated for the Polaris Music Prize, awarded each year to a Canadian album of exceptional merit without consideration to genre or commercial success. A five~song EP, City of Light, was put out in 2011 to coincide with a concert tour, and in 2012 the Wooden Sky released Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun; it became the group’s first significant chart success, rising to number 66 on the Canadian albums chart, and was nominated for a Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent to the Grammys) for Best Roots & Traditional Album of the Year, though Elliott Brood walked home with the prize. In 2015, after releasing their first three albums through the independent Black Box Recordings label, the Wooden Sky signed with new Canadian imprint Chelsea Records; the group’s first album for the label, 2015’s Let’s Be Ready, also presented another new lineup, with the core trio of Gardiner, Walker, and drummer Andrew Kekewich joined by longtime associates Edwin Huizinga on violin and Andrew Wyatt on bass. ~ Mark Deming
By Peter Ellman, Published Apr 05, 2017 / Score: 8
→ While the Wooden Sky’s last album, Let’s Be Ready, was probably their most accessible to date, Swimming in Strange Waters has a raw, live energy that’ll be familiar to fans who’ve seen them in larger venues. This album is also more experimental, with multiple textures creating a more visceral, associative sound.
→ Tonally, Gavin Gardiner’s voice keeps growing closer to the dusty, woody sound of Joseph Arthur or David Bazan, though once in a while he’ll unleash a wide vibrato that’d make Stevie Nicks smile. The more associative approach here is rooted in feel and energy more than clear~cut narrative storytelling, so articulation is secondary to expression. “You’re Not Alone” stands out for its warm and familiar Fleetwood Mac sound at first, with a sprinkling of romance from pizzicato strings in the chorus. Even without any lyrics, the feeling would still be a comforting one.
→ “Black Gold” was reportedly inspired by the Keystone XL pipeline protests, and is grounded by a unifying pulse, while “Riding on the Wind” tells stories of refugee families Gardiner met during the band’s work with Carty House and Romero House. No matter how political his subject matter might seem, Gardiner’s poetic writing never feels too didactic.
→ “Matter of Time” finds Gardiner channeling ‘50s rock influences, aided by a squawking sax towards the end of the song. One clue as to the fun they had experimenting is the candid “whew, alright alright!” at the beginning of the one acoustic~guitar~led song “Born to Die.” Other snippets, like the weird little organ solo at the end of “Swimming in Strange Waters,” draw more abstract connections, but the general feeling one gets is that this adaptive, evolving band are continually challenging themselves. → http://exclaim.ca/
→ Sometimes, in the process of recording music, a band’s sweat, calluses and grit go in one end and 0s and 1s come out the other with a sort of sterility that belies the original wild magic. It is difficult, and far more rare, to capture music burning with all the fury, fire and grit that make you fall in love with a live band in the first place. It is alchemy. And it’s achieved in spades by a band known as The Wooden Sky.
→ In the title track from its fifth full~length record, Swimming In Strange Waters, the Toronto five~piece transports you to frontman Gavin Gardiner’s home studio. → Gardiner’s guttural and rousing vocals, the psychedelic swirl of screaming guitars and whirling organ and a rhythm section that feels at once deeply rooted and dangerously unpredictable are all mixed by the deft hand of John Agnello. You can feel it swelling into an almost uncomfortable wave of power — and that’s before you consider the intense and important story behind the song.
→ “‘Swimming In Strange Waters,’” Gardiner says, “is my attempt to come to terms with the anger I still have about my grandfather’s sexual abuse of my mother and its lasting effects on my family.” Listen, and listen again. Tucked in alongside the wailing guitars and warbling synths, you will find a brave poet is using his voice to make the unknown knowable — or, in his own words, an artist who “feel[s] the weight of responsibility to act and make things better for the people to come.”
→ That sense of responsibility has always been present for The Wooden Sky, which has previously written about the violence endured by indigenous women and whose upcoming record will include both a rallying cry against the Keystone XL pipeline and a song inspired by refugee families. This is a band that handles delicate subjects with psychedelic swagger and a depth of lyrical intelligence that is never too on~the~nose, but always powerful. → http://www.npr.org/
|The Wooden Sky||Swimming In Strange Waters|