By Andrew Howie
I have to admit, the first time I listened to the latest studio work from Woodpigeon (a revolving collective of musicians with Canadian artist Mark Andrew Hamilton as the singer-songwriter), T R O U B L E, I didn’t think too much of it, and I didn’t find it particularly interesting. However, usually another listen or two changes my opinion at least a bit. I’m glad I gave this album a second chance, because it’s actually a very cool, mellow voyage through a sparse yet densely textured record.
The name Woodpigeon should give you at least a tiny clue to the musical style here: high-pitched vocals, hazy guitars, offbeat phrasing and pensive chord progressions. There’s a very green, woodsy sense to this album, and as I listened a second and third time I noticed a lot of things I hadn’t picked up on the first time around. Sounds like trumpet noodling, electronic glitches and droplets, twinkling keyboards, swelling strings, medieval flutes, and more dance around, flitting in and out of the main melody like fireflies. The tempo of the music hides the real depth of the composition, never moving at much more than a comfortable mid-tempo plod. Different percussion instruments make themselves heard one at a time, each sound its own voice in a well-orchestrated ensemble, while the bass surprisingly runs up and down, creating its own separate melody within the shifting guitar/keyboard framework. I look forward to listening again and again and getting lost in the sounds.
While there is certainly a morose tone to a good deal of the album, and the lyrics sometimes reinforce this), many of the verses contain uplifting messages of assertion, renewal, and hope for the future. I always appreciate when an artist can elicit two different emotions with the same piece, especially without changing the aesthetic of the song.
It may not be the most unique music I’ve ever heard, it’s certainly a fresh take on the indie style, and I found it very refreshing to be able to understand the vocalist and not have to fight through a million layers of reverb. I definitely made the right choice giving this album another spin. Recommended for any fans of folk, indie, Sufjan Stevens, light psychedelia, etc. This is the music for rainy days with a nice cup of tea, just enjoying everything being green and refreshed. Enjoy it at breakfast or any time you need to center yourself. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Rating 8 out of 10