Great songs are usually known less for what they sound like than what they have to say. In the case of Canadian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Royal Wood, having a lot to say can be both a blessing and a curse. In the same year, he lost his father to illness, he fell in love and got married.
It’s the tension between these events that fuel his newest release, Ever After The Farewell, and provide the emotional weight behind his current tour; which checks into The Rose Theatre on Nov. 22.
“Life showed me, firsthand, that I had never felt true grief before, nor did I understand love until now,” says Wood. “Experience itself removes the veil.”
Known for his intimate and compelling performances, whether it be in the wee hours of the morning at a Queen Street bar in Toronto or in front of thousands at festivals and theatres around the world, Royal Wood has built a loyal following over the last 15 years. The show at the Rose is a culmination of a career that includes radio hits, collaborations with heroes and multiple Juno award nominations.
“I’m definitely grateful for the audience that’s come along with me,” he explains. “I feel like they are true music lovers and they love storytelling. They love real emotion. I feel like if they were to name their favourite artists, I’d probably have the same list.”
It’s that understanding of his audience that Wood carries with him when he creates. It allows him the confidence to take musical and emotional risks that other artists might shy away from. On the new record, most of the songs were recorded the day they were written in order to capitalize on the emotional rawness of the moment.
“The most important thing for an artist is to listen to their own voice, shut out the naysayers and take risks,” he says. “At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is to live with the end in mind. On your last day on earth, if I have a moment to reflect, will I be proud of what I made? Did I live a life that was mine?”
The result of this uncommon commitment is a collection of music that speaks strongly and clearly from the first listen.
“It’s been translating early well onstage too,” Wood says. “They seem to be quickly becoming fan favourites. As an artist, when you put out your latest record and it’s your seventh, it’s all too easy to question yourself.”
The looming spectre of self doubt might seem a bit far fetched for Wood. In addition to his longevity and success as an artist, he just achieved a lifelong dream of selling out Toronto’s legendary Massey Hall this past spring.
“Massey is something that I’ve wanted for whole career,” he says. “Back in high school, my music teacher took me to Toronto to see Lou Reed at Massey Hall. I watched the show in awe and was determined to perform on that stage one day.”
This fulfillment of his musical fantasy is destined to be his next release too. A live record is in the mixing stage and the release will also feature a documentary about the gig and his career. Fans can look forward to the set early in 2019.
As someone who remembers well the dream of becoming a musician, Wood is now faced with being in the position of the inspiration for others.
“I get asked a lot, by young artists, about how one can have a career in music,” he says, while considering carefully. “And, I don’t know really. I should have a better answer. I just had a goal and I put that into everything that I did. No compromises.”
Royal Wood performs at the Rose Theatre on Nov. 22. Tickets are available by calling 905-874-2800 or by clicking here