On the phone from his parents’ farm in Lakefield, Ont., singer-songwriter Royal Wood sounds bright, upbeat, albeit, a little out of breath. On a rare but welcome break from a blistering touring schedule for his latest album We Were BornTo Glory, Wood is already at work at a different task: shoveling snow.
Never one to slow down, this is Wood’s idea of resting up before the last stop in his fall theatre cross-Canada Glory Tour, the National Arts Centre.
After the success of his 2010 album The Waiting, a collection of finely-crafted plaintive songs which earned him a Juno Award nomination for Songwriter of the Year,Wood toured extensively,completing four Canadian tours,as well as various shows in the United States and Europe. But he soon found himself looking for a new direction.“I was definitely road weary, and kind of bottlenecked in terms of being able to have some sort of creative output,” said Wood.
So he moved to Montreal, unplugged his phone and computer and wrote roughly 50 songs that he then narrowed down to 13 for his latest record, We Were Born To Glory. Positive and uplifting, this new record is certainly a departure from the beautifully melancholy songs that he is known for. But for Wood, it’s much more than that: it represents his maturity. He described his 20s as a ‘blur’, an unsettled period in his life where he was still trying to figure out who he was and what he wanted.
“Being in my 30s now and being married… you gravitate toward what’s really important. I’m just in a really good place, so my music is more positive than it’s ever been,” said Wood. “My life definitely channels itself into my music.”
What stands out about WeWere BornTo Glory is not just the fresh positive vibe,but the production style.Wood collaborated with long-time guitarist Dean Drouillard to create a sound that matched the bold lyrical ground he was undertaking, incorporating percussive loops into his music for the first time.
“Going into waters I hadn’t charted before and pushing myself and wanting to reach my own potential, I had to make a record that sounded unlike anything I’d made before,” said Wood.
Always one to challenge himself, Wood describes the Glory Tour as “a huge spectacle” that is louder and more epic sounding than previous shows, something that may be a surprise to his older fans, but that Wood says stays truest to the new album.“It’s the biggest show I’ve ever put on and it’s the largest band I’ve ever brought out on tour. It kind of runs that full journey that I feel the new record did,” said Wood.
Eleven years after the release of his first EP, Royal Wood is certainly not the brooding twenty-something balladeer anymore. But even in his new role of happily married family man, he’s nowhere near finished.
“In part, I feel like I’m just getting started,” said Wood.