Canadian singer-songwriter Royal Wood performs at the Stettler Performing Arts Centre Feb. 11 to sold out crowds. He had two shows, one at 2 p.m. and a second one at 7 p.m. ECA Review/L. Joy
His voice croons love.
That’s the enduring magic that ebbs and flows in the melodies, in the catchy lyrics, in the deeply romantic anthems of love.
Canadian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Royal Wood may be best known for his song “Juliet” about lasting love, the hope and the promise. In the sweet-sounding lyrics his voice cantillates, “You can be my Juliet then, And we can drift asleep in a lover’s pose, But never close our eyes, No we will survive.”
Wood, accompanied by upright bass player Steve Zsirai, performed two shows at the Stettler Performing Arts Centre to sold out crowds Feb. 11 as part of his North American and European tour to promote his upcoming album Ever After The Farewell that will be released April 6.
Wood released his new single “California Nights” in January, which is the first tract of the album and written by Wood, Jamie Scott and Luke Potashnick. “California Nights” draws the audience into a nostalgic glimpse at love, untamed youth and friendship.
“When I wrote the song I was thinking about childhood, crazy fun times in Los Angeles and Nashville, just being with my friends,” said Wood during an interview in Stettler after his performance. “It’s a nostalgic piece.”
The album is the result of a dichotomy of emotions for Wood. 2017 included the biggest highs and lows of his life – meeting and marrying the love of his life and the death of his father.
Immersing himself into his creativity was cathartic and the result was his eleventh album Ever After The Farewell that he said captures the polar opposite emotions he felt while composing the music.
“I said farewell to my father but I started the journey of ever after with my wife.”
The man and woman’s hands on the cover of the album represent both Wood taking his bride’s hand in marriage and his father’s hand leaving his mother’s.
The year, 2017 was a year of paradigm shifts for Wood.
“Life showed me firsthand that I had never felt true grief before, nor did I understand love until now.”
Indeed, Wood is driven by love and his latest album celebrates the timeless styles of Tin Pan Alley and Laurel Canyon, which created hits like “By the Light of the Silvery Moon (Gus Edwards and Edward Madden) and “Our House (Joni Mitchell) respectively.
Wood played most of the instruments in the songs and to capture the rawest sound most songs were recorded the day they were written.
Wood recorded the album on the Beatles EMI console where they made Abbey Road.
Wood was born John Royal Wood Nicholson and his middle names, Royal Wood, which are his performing names, were chosen after his great-grandfather Royal Rufus Wood who died in 1962.
Royal Wood was raised on a farm in Ontario and enjoys performing at smaller venues like Stettler.
“I grew up in a small town, Village of Lakefield, with a high school of 400 plus kids. It’s small town, it makes it feel like family. You meet the woman backstage that made the soup, that baked the banana bread for you, and that doesn’t happen in the big city shows.”
Wood has since bought the family farm where he grew up and is now an organic farmer and environmentalist.
Wood picked up piano by ear when he was four and started writing song when he was eight.
“It’s all I ever wanted to do,” he said.
Wood was inspired by the greats like Tom Petty, The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Cat Stevens.
“When I was a kid my dad had my uncle’s music collection and there were all these old vinyls and the first time he played them Cat Stevens came on and that was it, that was when I knew I wanted to be a songwriter from that point on.”
No one artist inspired him the most but if he had to choose one that inspired him the longest he said it would be the Beatles; John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
In 2014 Wood’s single “Forever and Ever” was a Top 40 hit in Canada. In 2010 iTunes named him Songwriter of the Year.
The same year he was nominated at the Junos for Songwriter of the Year. In 2013 he was nominated for another Juno for Adult Alternative Album of the Year.
Wood has had success in Hollywood with his songs being used on several TV and movie soundtracks including ReGenesis, This is Wonderland, Playing House, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Food Network’s Surreal Gourmet.
In May Wood will play at the internationally famous Massey Hall in Toronto – Canada’s most important concert venue that attracts top celebrities from around the world. But when you ask Wood what is the greatest accomplishment of his career, it’s clear it’s about the music.
“The fact that I have been a self-employed successful musician for almost 15 years now in an industry that doesn’t allow most people to do it,” he said.