With Lora Jol
Saturday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m.
Haven Social Club (15120 Stony Plain Rd.)
Tickets $8 at yeglive.ca
If you’d met Cory Woodward four years ago, you might not recognize him as the same man he is today.
Once plagued by personal demons and in a constant depressive state, the scruffy rocker’s life was rapidly falling apart. Often turning to drugs and alcohol for comfort while on the road touring, the desire to connect with others but being afraid to do so was quickly becoming overwhelming. Feeling like he had nowhere else to turn, Woodward realized that the time had come to regain control of his life.
“I was active in addiction on many fronts for a number of years, and when you hold onto so much stuff, your body just has to release it,” Woodward recalls. “It got to a point where one day, just out of sheer stress, I burst a blood vessel in my eye and was just constantly in my head — it started to turn around from there. I didn’t know how or what or which path to go down, I just knew I had to start changing or it would lead to something much worse.”
Throwing himself into counseling and 12-step programs, Woodward began the slow and painful journey to recovery. Attempting to reopen himself to the world, he sought the comfort of calming activities like yoga and leaned on the encouragement of his support groups. And when he still couldn’t find a way to communicate the thoughts and temptations racing through his mind, he turned to songwriting.
“Songwriting had been the only way that I communicated what I wanted to say,” Woodward says. “Gradually, the world just became more wonderful as a result. You start collecting all this evidence that it’s okay to share all your emotions and feelings and thoughts and people won’t think you’re weird or not love you or run away. It’s fuel for the fire when you get on that vibe.”
Years later, Woodward is a changed man. No longer living a life chained to the beckoning of addiction, the desire for inner peace is still a daily struggle for the singer, who recently released his second studio album The Truth. A compilation of songs he wrote “over a lifetime of suppression, emotion and vulnerability,” the album openly discusses his past feelings of depression and addiction while also delving into topics like self-awareness and the futility of war.
But perhaps Woodward’s greatest accomplishment on the album is his newfound ability to talk about these experiences openly. It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of being vulnerable and opening up to others would’ve sent him into a tailspin with potentially dangerous consequences.
While it’s only been a few years since he penned the songs, it might as well be a lifetime. Those who see Woodward perform today find themselves in the presence of a man now at peace with himself — a sight they wouldn’t have seen the last time he toured on his own.
“I’ve connected myself with so many people since transitioning (from my addiction). I’ve written about friends, people that I’ve met and then I’ve written personal things that I’ve learned and want to share,” Woodward says. “The way I’m heading nowadays, there is a clear direction, a clear voice. It’s not so riddled with hurt and sadness.”
Woodward’s voice is never clearer than when he’s performing his songs from The Truth, which he now looks back on with a different perspective. No longer in the same place he was when he wrote the songs, Woodward works to take the songs beyond the darkness they’re based on, projecting a hopeful message that anyone can rise from the ashes of their past.
“I’m fully embracing the dark and the light now,” Woodward says. “I still have moments where I’m utterly depressed and deflated and material will come out of that. And then there’s a lot of stuff I’ve learned along the way about remaining connected to yourself, connected to the people around you and how important that and the choices you choose to make are.
“A lot of my material now invites people to be a little more self-aware and vulnerable, and that’s something I want to share immensely.”
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