If you’re a regular folkie, you may remember Royal Wood’s last performance at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival in 2007. As I recall, it involved a candlelit hill, a starry sky and a quiet acoustic ‘tweener set on the mainstage. Wood stood in a small spotlight, in a too-tight button up shirt and sang “I’m So Glad”. A cool breeze carried his rich voice up the hill. I remember the same wind in my hair and the tingle in my spine. It was one of those simple folk fest moments that I’ve kept with me over the years, one I’m reminded of every time “I’m So Glad” or “Juliet” finds its way into my mind.
But artists change, and since that 2007 set Wood has made some artistic decisions that cause me to lose interest. The video for “On Top of Your Love,” for example, has way too many sexy girl music video tropes for my liking. (Seriously, Royal, we get it: she’s conventionally attractive and you read The New York Times.) The relationship between artist and audience is just like any other: they don’t always work out. And that’s okay.
But a few days ago, I sat down and took a listen to Wood’s latest album We Were Born to Glory. To be honest, Glory isn’t going on top rotation on my iPod. It does, however, contain a number of songs that have the same sincere simplicity that drew me to Wood 5 years ago. And since folk fest sets are usually quiet, acoustic affairs, I have high hopes for him at this year’s fest. Keep an eye out for Glory’s opening track, “The Thick of It”: the summery, hopping song will be perfect for the lovers and the dancers in the crowd. Meanwhile, “Will We Ever Learn” should offer some comfort for the heartbroken among us; the song proves that Wood can write a simple, heart wrenching piano ballad as well as the best of them.
So after a long hiatus, I’m looking forward to possibly rekindling my relationship with Wood’s music. And in the mood for some honest, poppy fair at the folk festival, give Royal Wood a listen- you might just fall for him.
For more info on the workshops Royal Wood will be playing at this year’s Edmonton Folk Music Festival, check out YegLive.ca.