From the humble beginnings of ‘Child Of The Valley’ The Wooden Sky’s Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun is brimming with promise that is never fully realized. Taking some very obvious cues from Bon Iver is never a bad thing and the opening track lays the foundations for an album of 21st Century folk which does well to set itself apart from a genre that has slowly become saturated since Justin Vernon and co’s seminal, break-through release For Emma, Forever Ago.
The album’s second track ‘Angelina’ bristles with rich, almost choral melodies and harmonies while ‘Dancing At My Window’ follows, conjuring the subtle flavours of Ray Lamontagne at his most sparse, to make for one of the albums finest moments. The first third of the album, while very good, doesn’t really stray far from the aforementioned well-trodden-path.
The fifth track, the aptly titled ‘Malibu Rum’ adds a quite unexpected, and welcome, departure towards the Caribbean with its syncopated rhythms and lilting tempo. The song effortlessly charms the listener with its beautiful, almost honky-tonk guitars, backing “oooooohs”, and at a mere 3:07 leaves you eager to hit repeat. Immediately after we sway through to the 60s-high-school-dance stylings of ‘Take Me Out’ into, what could’ve been a cut from the latest Bon Iver album, ‘Bald, Naked And Red’. Another of the albums stand out tracks ‘The Night Goes On And On’ tells of a lover turning their back on another as they lie together in bed, but ultimately leaves us with the melancholic yet hopeful line “when you put your hands over my face then I knew I wasn’t alone”.
One thing that cannot be faulted throughout the record is Gavin Gardiner’s soft, yet powerful voice. At times it creaks and cracks like Bono at his most human and vunerable (‘Dancing At My Window’); at other times it attacks phrases with shades of the Boss himself (‘The Night Goes On And On’). It allows The Wooden Sky to switch between styles effortlessly during the album’s duration. By the time we reach the end of the album it feels as if the band a recycling some of the melodies and chord progressions from earlier tracks. These may be intentional motifs and ‘all that’ but it makes for frustrating listening as it is quite evident from earlier tracks that The Wooden Sky don’t need filler.
Album closer ‘Hold On To Me’ is a wonderful track with one of the albums best lyrics “they held life like a trophy”. Across the entirety of Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun The Wooden Sky seem at their most captivating when they are at their most sparse and raw. While the larger arrangements don’t hold the album back, it leaves you wondering how fantastic it could’ve been with more tracks like ‘Malibu Rum’ or ‘Child Of The Valley’. That said, this is a solid record that can sit proudly next to The Civil Wars and Bon Iver without feeling like a soulless wannabe.