Drag a simple hand-carved chair across the floor, and join the silence that is collecting in front of the stage. Hush. Everyone is listening to the band. Notes fall from the air like paper airplanes and land in our laps. The surrounding world dims in the fading light; the sun setting over the West End. A streetcar rattles by, adding depth of character to the city, when it was assumed that its chaotic rhythm would challenge the patience the music evokes.
Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun is The Wooden Sky’s third EP. It is a soothing milk bath in an open field, a slow country dance in a stone based barn, and a breath of calming air through a dusk-soaked field. It is at once polished and rustic; lead singer Gavin Gardener’s voice floats effortlessly over the arrangements. He is a maverick of emotion – his every word pushing thought through the lulling guitar, with the folksy twang of his vocals proving the legitimacy of the song’s simple design. Harmonies are a blessing given in the form of vocal unison.
The Wooden Sky, formed in 2003, is a Toronto-based quintet. Their music is a humble offering to the prevailing alter of Canadian folk. Gardener started writing tunes while still attending Ryerson University. Band members Andrew Wyatt (bass, vocals), Simon Walker (piano, vocals, guitar) and Andrew Kekewich (percussion) joined shortly after, as well as Edwin Huizinga (violin).
The opener, Child of the Valley, says simply, ‘If I found mercy surely you can too/ you’re not a stone/ you are not alone.’ The rest of the album builds continuously on this theme of music working as medicine for the everyday mental plights of the urbanized horde. This music was born in the city, not some back-wood as the drums would make you believe. Each track is a promise, a salute to what still exists in the painted streets between the strangers and the small acts of aggression that each of us employ to get through our days.
True, in the current music scene folk, is borderline over-represented. Perhaps I feel that way only because it is my preferred genre and there is no shortage of amazing new bands to fall in love with. That being said, The Wooden Sky found me, not the other way around. Have you ever had a moment when you looked sideways at a radio and believed that it was trying to tell you something? I have. It came thirty minutes before I downloaded this album; it happened after I said, ‘This is good, who is this?’ for the fourth time. ‘The Wooden Sky?’ I asked, and then shook my head. ‘Of course it is.’
From one Toronto-based-music-junkie to another: this band is worth checking out. Patriotism is luxury that most music critics cannot afford, but I smiled to myself when I discovered we were from the same town. Their music is not decidedly Canadian, if anything besides playing a hockey stick could be, but our mutual roots strengthen the sense of camaraderie that is so naturally woven within their songs by the gentle performances the musicians offer.
I cross my arms across my chest, stretch out my legs, and tip back onto the hind legs of my hand-carved chair; let the dust motes twirl for me in the warm yellow light. I hear the release of a Bathurst St. bus’ airbrakes, and a paper cup scrapping along the gutter. Alongside Gardener’s comforting vocals, they are nothing but sureties that the city is a glorious maze of interconnections, and that restlessness is a symptom of the uninformed.
Final Thought: The Wooden Sky is playing Canadian Music Fest. Check local listings for dates and venues.
Tracks to Check Out:
Child of the Valley
The Night Goes On and On
I’m Your Man
Hang onto Me