Billy Woodward Writes About Life As He Sees It in New Album, ‘The Boy From The Bay’
After the success of singles “Heartworn Hopeless Highway” and “Pearly Gates”, Americana roots artist Billy Woodward released his highly anticipated LP The Boy From The Bay on June 24th. The Boy From The Bay showcases both the highs and lows of Billy Woodward’s painful yet exquisite life, and the love he has for the kind of redemption only found through songwriting while exploring the eclectic musical stylings that have consistently been a bedrock throughout his life. Written over the span of time since his last release in 2013, the album sees Woodward working through the trials and tribulations that life undoubtedly serves each of us.
“I wrote about loss and grief. I wrote songs about bearing witness to the heavy burden of alcoholism and substance abuse. I wrote about the love affair I had with traveling the open road. I wrote about the darkest hours when your own sense of well-being seem to have left you cold. I wrote about salvation and redemption. I wrote about life as I saw it.” – Billy Woodward
Although the record acted as personal “therapy” for Woodward as he attempted to “find clarity, meaning or even just some closure” from his own past, his storytelling affords relatability to all with its poetic open-endedness. Opening with the track “South County”, Woodward sets a path imbued with the energy of a chain gang while the song itself retains an analog, live-in-the-studio feel. Woodward showcases his transformative knack for arrangement and production in songs like “Thistle and Clay” or “Watch It All Fall Down” where an Appalachian fiddle soars over a war time shuffle and a tasteful hammond organ accompanied by a gospel choir uplifts the listener. “Pearly Gates” – a rally cry for the soul – finds Woodward praying for salvation upon a locomotive beat, as he details the struggles of mental health, comparison and the strength to find another way. “Honesty Blues” presents as an intimate track that blends clean acoustic guitar with an operatic spirit which seems to float above our Boy from the Bay as he sings “I know that you’re desperate for the truth / to rectify the demons of our youth” realizing he is freed by his own travel worn revelations. Lyrically, “Heartworn Hopeless Highway” shines as an authentic reflection of all of us and the daily striving to choose strength amidst hardship. In this way, and despite its gritty, contemplative and melancholic instrumentation, the song is inevitably about one thing: resilience.
Overall The Boy From The Bay delivers on what Woodward describes as his “therapy record” while sounding more like the soundtrack to a great modern western flick with its pensive Americana instrumentation, alt-country sensibilities, and evocative vocals. Capturing the juxtaposition of both the peaks and valleys of life and searching for that cord that brings them together in order to see it through, Woodward describes it as being about “searching for meaning in the relationship between good times and hard times – how they’re inextricably linked… It’s a record about letting go and moving on while focusing on the brighter skies ahead.”
Recorded at Studio G in Brooklyn, New York, produced by John Jackson (The Jayhawks, Ray Davies) and mixed at Phillips Recording in Memphis, Tennessee by Matt Ross-Spang (John Prine, Jason Isbell), fans of modern country and Americana will certainly love to deep dive the roster of talented musicians featured, including Austin Cook, Ramblin’ Rob Heath, Rich Hinman, John Jackson, Corey Kaiser, Josh Kantor, Dennis Lichtman, The Mastersons (Chris Masterson & Eleanor Whitmore), Tim O’Reagan, Alex Whitman, Greg Wieczorek and Adrienne Walker.
About Billy Woodward:
Hailing from the southern shores of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, Billy Woodward has forged his path as an artist through his passion for music, animation and art. From performing in the Broadway production of Million Dollar Quartet to working as an Art Director at Rolling Stone Magazine to most recently animating sequences for the film David Crosby: Remember My Name, Billy has always kept his sights on pursuing his deep adoration of Americana aesthetics and sounds. He recorded his debut EP, ‘The Beast In Me’, at Sun Studio in Memphis, TN. A six song sprawl through the weeds of American storytelling the EP is a conceptually laced tale dressed with murder ballads and hopeful soul music all wrapped in a traditional rock and roll packaging. It won Best Roots EP at the 13th Annual Independent Music Awards and was subsequently featured in a full live performance on the PBS show ‘Sun Sessions’. Woodward has since evolved his songwriting and live performance as he has dug deeper into his curiosity for American folk music and storytelling. Advancing his love for the craft of animation has also expanded his toolbox for self expression as can be experienced in his upcoming full-length LP, The Boy From The Bay, slated for a Summer 2022 release. It follows Woodward’s rough and tumble journey through the trials and tribulations of grief, desperation and redemption. Produced by John Jackson and mixed by Matt Ross-Spang, the record is a collection of styles and themes that have been the backdrop tapestry for Woodward’s life thus far.