Presented by the Edmonton Folk Music Festival
Performances on Friday, August 10 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, August 11 at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. and Sunday, August 12 at 5:30 p.m.
Listening to Royal Wood’s latest album, We Were Born To Glory, it’s easy to see the Canadian pop artist is in a much different headspace than on his 2010 album The Waiting.
Known as a balladeer who favours darker pop sounds, Wood’s latest channels an entirely different sort of energy. Distinctly up-tempo with soaring melodies, the new album embraces the bigger picture, capturing a confidence and honesty we haven’t seen from Wood before.
Tackling heady topics like discovering your own place in the universe and deciding what we’re meant to do with our lives, the album is philosophically driven by a newfound love for life. As the album title suggests, Wood believes we’re all born to a higher purpose, something he feels he’s achieved with his latest album.
“These are the big questions and I don’t think there is the one answer — I think the answer is different for everyone,” says Wood. “Where I’m at in my life right now, I’m figuring out that this really is my place and that I don’t need to deviate from my path.”
No longer flowering his lyrics with excessive poetry and imagery like he has in the past, the honesty of Wood’s words stands out this time around. The lead single “Not Giving Up” displays the persistence of a man who knows how bumpy the road to love can be, while sexually charged songs like “I Want Your Love” reflect a man who has comfortably grown into not only his own skin, but also his music.
“It really reflects a certain period of my life,” Wood muses. “It’s far more energetic, and I’d say hopeful-sounding, than anything I’ve made before. I just feel far more grounded and confident in my life now. Despite whatever I might be dealing with, I find there’s always hope. I don’t feel like a cynic, and I think I was in my twenties.”
While there’s no doubt his twenties have been good to him — 2008 saw him named iTunes’ Songwriter of the Year, while the success of The Waiting earned him a Juno Award nomination in 2011 for Songwriter of the Year — We Were Born To Glory brings with it every assurance that things will only continue to get better in the next decade of Wood’s life.
Reflecting on the album, positivity radiates from Woods’ voice as he contemplates the personal revelations that have brought him to this point. Now happily married to Canadian songstress Sarah Slean and well into a flourishing music career, he describes years of his life that, while successful, were often clouded by a closed-off persona. The difference between then and now, says Wood, is night and day.
“(In your) twenties, you’re just figuring out who you are and everything’s so blurry. You’re always moving and everything is kind of a blur, really. You’re more experiencing as opposed to reflecting,” Wood says. “Now that I’m in my thirties, I’m reflecting and realizing that I’m so exactly where I always wanted to be. It’s just kind of a joyous existence, to be honest.”
As to whether his newfound attitude will carry on with him into his future years and albums, “ask me in two years,” is the only reply a chuckling Wood can give. While he’s hopeful his life will continue to be on this path in the years to come, he’s prepared for the possibility of change.
For now, Wood is content to simply bask in the moment of his current satisfaction and success while he can, taking it in in all its glory.
“Some artists lose a family member, a relationship falls apart, drug addiction — who knows? Right now, I can’t complain. Right now, I’m hopeful for the future and excited by it,” he says. “I’m loving every moment, even when they’re difficult to deal with. I’m still experiencing it and tackling it head on, which is a real first for me.”
The remnants of chivalry still linger today, especially in the dating world.