I know exactly where this photo was taken because I used to live around the corner, years ago, when I came back to Toronto after spending the previous four years in Southern California. I was living at a friend’s loft down the street on Sorauren and the Fall was making itself known to me for the first time in a long time. I walked passed that mystery restaurant every morning to get coffee and I wondered whether anyone without some kind of previous affiliation or secret password had ever walked through their door in need of income tax services and a “hot food sandwich”.
Back then I would have been listening to The Wooden Sky’s “If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone” which I thought was a poignant album title for that period of my life of constant coming and going. The Wooden Sky recently released “Let’s Be Ready” and I haven’t listened to much else since I purchased it last week. I don’t live too far away from that street corner, but I’m a world away from that time in my life and I could easily apply the same parallels to the evolution of The Wooden Sky. They’ve maintained a style that is so uniquely their own, but their songwriting has grown more confident, more inspired, more fully-realized than the records before it. Not surprisingly then, the album itself coincides with the launch of the band’s new boutique label, Chelsea Records.
Standout tracks include, “Saturday Night”, “Don’t You Worry About A Thing”, and “Maybe It’s No Secret” among others. There’s a certain kind of soul in Gardiner’s vocals that warble and drawl – it can be both tender and animated, as it narrates stories that touch heavily on feelings of displacement/life on the road, loneliness, love, getting older. In fact, the lyrics are actually quite melancholy, but the rhythm and guitar seems almost manic in comparison. Maybe it’s because there’s such a lack of these kinds of high energy, aggressively guitar-driven albums in my musical rotation these days that I crave it. There’s an intensity to it that feels cathartic and redemptive as a listener.