There is something quietly profound about listening to We Were Born To Glory; the new record by singer-songwriter, arranger and producer Royal Wood. We hear Royal celebrate life with the wisdom of a seasoned soul, tempered with a youthful wonder.
While the power of his last album The Waiting lay in its crystalline balladry, it only takes one listen to the delightfully up-tempo opening track “The Thick Of It” to immediately realize Royal has turned a fresh new page.
“This record represents a celebration of life and all the aspects of it,” he says. “Not just love and loss, but life on a grand scale – knowing that we are born as a seed of potential to be anything we want. Life is about balance but often we can get so caught up in the drama of every day interaction that we take for granted just being alive.”
The vision for We Were Born To Glory sounds bold, and indeed it is. The 13 songs chosen for the record were among the almost 50 songs he had written before stepping back into the studio in November of 2011.
Wood enlisted his trusted production collaborator Dean Drouillard to co-produce the new material with him, and the duo returned to the inspired setting of Pierre Marchand’s Montreal studio space to begin the recording process.
“With each record I try to break boundaries and create something I haven’t made before,” he says. “I wanted to push myself not only artistically, but emotionally as well. Exceeding my own potential was the major thread of this record.”
That need to expand found Royal arranging all of the strings and horns himself in rich fullness on songs like “Will We Ever Learn” and “I Need You Now”. For the first time ever, Wood incorporated percussive loops into his music adding a crisp layer of untried texture to his work.
The songs on We Were Born To Glory brim with newfound maturity. On the lead single “Not Giving Up” Wood sings with an experienced, hopeful voice of cultivating and maintaining love throughout a couple’s inevitable struggle.
On the infectious “I Want Your Love”, Royal departs from his balladeer past with driving fuzz bass and guitars underpinning the sexually charged lyrics of a mature man comfortable in his own skin.
The up-tempo atmosphere of the record leads listeners through a gamut of emotion that culminates at “The Glory”, the uplifting and contemplative song that inspired the title of the album.
“That’s the driving message of the album,” he explains. “We were born to glory. However, sometimes we lose sight of how precious life is in the midst of petty earthly strife. We forget that every second is special, every human glorious, and every moment a gift.”
Though We Were Born To Glory may in itself have a deliberate culmination, it is also yet another jumping-off point for Royal Wood whose career is in a constant state of growth.
A large part of Royal’s success has been built the old fashioned way — through word of mouth and constant touring. The past few years have seen him venture out on the road with artists like David Gray and headline tours including the Root Of It All Tour, which was a renaissance to his early days of performing solo on stage with just his piano and guitar. “I love performing with my band, but I missed being the intimate storyteller,” he explains. “I wanted to return to that for a moment.”
Fans appreciated the cozy atmosphere of the tour, which organically gave life to Sneak Peek Tour that followed in early 2012; where sell-out crowds were treated to hearing brand new songs come to life in a series of intimate shows.
It has been a road of accolades and accomplishments leading up to now. In 2008, Royal was crowned Songwriter of the Year by iTunes and in 2011 his album The Waiting earned a Juno Award nomination for Songwriter of the Year — further establishing him among the elite of Canadian songwriting. He has also landed several major placements in TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice.
Royal Wood has laid the foundation of his career by writing honest music to much critical acclaim. With the release of We Were Born To Glory he continues to win each fan through the intimate connection only a truly great songwriter can make with his audience.