Life has a way of knocking on our door on the days we least expect it. For singer-songwriter Royal Wood, life knocked pretty damn hard. For in the same year that he lost his father to illness, he also fell in love and got married.
“I read once that you can’t get wet from the word water. That it isn’t the word that allows for the knowing to take place, but rather the experience itself that removes the veil. Life showed me first hand that I had never felt true grief before, nor did I understand love either until now. It’s been a year of true paradigm shifts.”
As an artist, Royal channelled these polar opposite emotions into his new album Ever After The Farewell. Recorded in London, UK, with Jamie Scott (known for his work with renowned artists like Rag’n Bone Man, Michael Kiwanuka, Niall Horan and Ed Sheeran), Royal’s album is not only deeply inspired by both loss and love, but is an ode to the classic styles of both Tin Pan Alley and Laurel Canyon.
“Jamie and I worked on the album over the course of three writing trips to the UK. The very first thing Jamie and I worked on was ‘Something About You’. It began with me playing the basic chord progression, and then Jamie started riffing on the idea that it should be about a girl you see and instantly fall for, and the lyrics should be based on the silly dialog you say to yourself in your head. We wrote the song in about 30 minutes from end to end. To me, it ended up being a call out to the Universe because 1 week later I met my wife for the first time and fell instantly in love.”
To capture the rawest possible sound, most of the songs on the album were recorded the day they were written, with Royal playing the majority of the instruments. As fate would have it, Royal recorded the album on the Beatles EMI console that made Abbey Road possible. “Every day I walked into the studio in London UK with the ghosts of my musical heroes sitting beside me,” said Royal. “All of my life I wanted to make music with the Beatles, and now I feel like I have,” he joked.
“All artists have their influences and sometimes I think we channel them more than others. For me, Lennon and McCartney were definitely with me when I wrote ‘Hardest Thing Of All’”.
When asked about the album title and artwork, Royal said “I called the album ‘Ever After The Farewell’ because I wanted the title to encompass the polar opposite emotions I felt in my life while creating the music. I said farewell to my father, but I started the journey of ever after with my wife. We used the man and woman’s hands on the cover because they represent both my hand taking my wife’s hand in marriage, and my father’s leaving my mother’s.”
Fionn’s Alanna and Brianne Finn-Morris might be young, but don’t let that fool you. The 19-year-old twins from White Rock, British Columbia, have been singing together for most of their lives. They officially “turned pro” when they started busking at Vancouver’s bustling Granville Island at the age of 12, and by the time they hit 14 they were playing around 100 shows a year, growing a fan base for a folk-pop sound centred around the sort of telepathically tight vocal harmonies that only siblings could deliver.
Appearances on local radio and TV soon followed, and the sisters entered—and won—a number of talent competitions. They also caught the ear of 604 Records founder Jonathan Simkin, who encouraged them to continue crafting original material.
Simkin recruited Louise Burns to serve as a mentor for Fionn. An acclaimed singer-songwriter in her own right, Burns has released three LPs for 604 imprint Light Organ, including the Polaris Music Prize-nominated Mellow Drama. Burns also got an early start in the music business, as a founding member of the band Lillix while she was still in high school.
With Burns in the producer’s chair, Alanna and Brianne have honed their songwriting chops. The sisters cite everyone from Canadian icons Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell to current hitmakers like Lorde and Hozier as influences. Their own songs, however—from the sharp social commentary of “Skeleton” and “Magazine Face” (which contains the pithy observation that “little girls want to grow up to be wanted”) to the poignantly personal “Tell Me I’m Pretty” and “Give In”—make it abundantly clear that they are developing a voice that is entirely their own.
The lyrics are backed by arrangements that range from the lushly orchestrated folk-pop balladry of “Give In” to the boot-stomping roots-rock of “On to the Next”. At the heart of it all, however, the diamond-sharp harmonies of Alanna and Brianne sparkle, singing songs that suggest an old, wise soul dwells behind Fionn’s fresh faces.