In today’s world of blink and you miss it hits and pop up bands that spring forth from the darkest corners of the internet, only to just as quickly disappear back into the laptop from whence they came, it’s far to easy to forget this simple fact: If you’re a musician your main, and ultimate goal should be to make good music.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s not only a place, but there is a necessity for the boundary pushers out there to do what they do. It fuels creativity and shines the light on the hidden potential of a moment or sound. But just because you’re the first person who thought of recording your hyperactive Chihuahua’s yelps through fourteen delay pedals* (half analog/half digital) while someone plays a digeri-bong in the background, as interesting as that may be, doesn’t mean your job is finished. You’ve got to give it melody. You’ve got to give it soul. You’ve got to ground it in something.
On Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun, Toronto’s The Wooden Sky seem to not only be acutely aware of that fact, but one could easily say that they are determined to push that most elusive boundary of simply making a great record, to its very limits. To be clear, the ghosts of Whiskeytown, Magnolia Electric Co and even the Band haunt the hallways of Every Child without remorse. But those hallways are also filled with The Wooden Sky’s uncanny ability to reinvigorate those universal sounds into something that feels as timeless as it does at peace with its own devotion to, musically speaking, the native soil from whence it sprang.
Just as the sophisticated lilt of “Malibu Rum” plays as a spiritual successor to Whiskeytown’s “Paper Moon (off of their swan song, Pneumonia), similarly the albums second track, “Angelina” could easily find it’s way onto at least the outtakes for The Band’s uber-classic Music From Big Pink. But there’s more to Every Child than just familiarity. As artists of this genre so often do, The Wooden Sky are speaking to the human experience on a universal level in their songs.
With lyrics like “It’s hard just staying sober when the night goes on and on” (from “The Night Goes On And On”) or the line “So darling close the blinds and every time that we get drunk it could just be you and I” (from the track “It Gets Old To Be Alone”) chief songwriter Gavin Gardiner clings to the dark and lonely drunken night as a system of almost religious belief for most of the album. His characters and their habitually losering ways are in a seemingly continual freefall to the bottom, but ultimately Gardiner never quite lets them get there. Throwing out the lifeline “But when it gets too dark to see you always call me back” on “Hang On To Me”, the albums closer, Gardiner manages to keep his head, if only barely so, above water and in doing so reveals Every Child’s greatest strength.
There’s a strange comfort that can be found in commiseration, and truly this records greatest success is its ability to bring the listener down, sometimes to the very bottom, but to never leave them completely alone there. Whether by lyrical turn, or simply the raw, whiskey soaked beauty of the music, Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun ultimately offers up a glimmer of hope even in its darkest moments. By grounding their record in the humanity of the matter, The Wooden Sky have created a most uncommon album out of the most common of elements, and in doing so have also created one of the best albums that 2012 has to offer thus far.
Make good music. That’s all you’ve got to do. This is the proof.
*and no, that’s not a bust on tUnE-yArDs