Tuesday nights are HRH‘s swimming lessons day at Ridley College in St. Catharines. What this means for me is that I have approximately 60 minutes to kill while she’s doing that so my own Tuesday routine then has now become slipping in a run while she paddles away. And the bonus to this is (if you chose to look at this positively) is that the Niagara has one HUGE benefit for runners that I do not get living in Ridgeway: hills. And lots of them. While I profess to not exactly loving my hills I do recognize they do make you a better runner (click HERE) and so I plan to take advantage of this – for 60 minutes at a time – on Tuesday nights…beginning tonight. Tonight’s first 7k hill run of the season then was set to the ‘Let’s Be Still‘ album by Toronto-based “Fuzz-Folk” band The Wooden Sky.
The Band originated after lead singer Gavin Gardiner wrote songs for a school project while attending Ryerson University. Released on Chelsea Records in 2014, ‘Let’s Be Ready‘ was named the number one Folk Album of 2014 by Exclaim! Magazine and then even nabbed the 4th spot on The Huffington Post Best of 2014 list. Not too shabby.
They originally earned a Polaris Music Prize nomination for their 2009 sophomore album ‘If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone‘, and were shortlisted for a Juno for 2012’s ‘Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun‘, both of which I’m sure i’m going to check out on future runs – believe me. With this, their 4th album, ‘Let’s Be Ready’ offers their most ambitious yet accessible album; a set of songs cued to the wide dynamics and emotional range of Gardiner’s vocals and songwriting, while his accompanists – Simon Walker on keyboards, guitar, and mandolin, Edwin Huizinga on violin, Andrew Wyatt on bass, and Andrew Kekewich on drums – give the performances the evocative delivery that’s become their hallmark.
This record is the first that the band have recorded in their Toronto hometown since their debut six years ago. Some of it was made in frontman Gardiner’s own garage studio, while the rest was made at various studios around the city, so it has very – shall we say – urban feel to it. From the get go with the opening of ‘Saturday Night‘ (think Kings Of Leon with a hungover The Edge on guitar), the band step on the gas and refuse to let go, which is goo considering I was to nearly kill myself traversing up and down Welland Vale Rd. three times (it’s only my first hill workout so give me a break). Across the rest of the album, the tone shifts from upbeat toe-tappers to Uncle Tupelo-like alt-country, and the backing gospel-style harmonies behind Gardiner’s soulful drawl. ‘When The Day Is Fresh & The Light Is New’ is a real toe-tapper (or foot pounder as it were), ‘Kansas City’ is total Springsteen, and The Beach Boys-esque ‘Baby Hold On‘ gracefully crosses from folk to country and back again. Then there’s ‘Our Hearts Were Young’ which is firmly embedded in – dare I say it – shoegaze. But it’s the album’s second-to-last track ‘Maybe it’s No Secret’ (the album’s most high-energy track) which arrives like the cool kid at the party and might just be my favorite with delay-drenched guitars, unstoppable energy and indelible chorus just as I’m rolling in down Ridley Rd. back to the parking lot.
So while I might not like hills too much, I sure like The Wooden Sky and I look forward to listening to other albums by the group on future jaunts up and down my new ‘Welland Vale Rd. Heartbreaker‘ segment. Hey, whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger right?
God have mercy on my soul.
Successes: 5th overall Strava effort on ‘Welland Vale Rd. Heartbreaker‘ segment (1:13).