Canadian musician Woodpigeon, a.k.a. Mark Andrew Hamilton, has emerged from a brief hiatus to release his sixth full-length. Merging the best of John Grant with Avalon era Roxy Music, Fleetwood Mac’s Tango in the Night, and a nod towards Kanye West’s Yeezus, the sounds are transposed to a largely acoustic setting feeding off influences from his travels across the globe.
This is a record about rhythm and sex and sadness. Previous Woodpigeon LPs have been epic affairs about falling in love with the interplay between choirs and symphonies, guitars and voices. This one narrows things down to the finest point, because so often less is so much more.
As Hamilton points out: “It’s the loudest thing I’ve ever made.” He released his first four albums Songbook, Treasury Library Canada, Die Stadt Muzikanten and Balladeer via End of the Road Records, with Thumbtacks and Glue following via Fierce Panda. T R O U B L E features Woodpigeon’s current line-up of Mark Andrew Hamilton alongside Daniel Gaucher on percussion, Colin Edward Cowan on bass, and Annalea Sordi-McClure on keys. Guest appearances on the album come from David Thomas Broughton and Mary Margaret O’Hara.
Before this release, Hamilton had all but quit music following a messy heartbreak. He wandered the earth for two years, particularly inspired by time in Istanbul; “during the riots, no less - when you're particularly bummed out, getting tear gassed every day is a good distraction”.
Finally returned to Canada, he re-located to a collective house in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side and continued working on new material. It was freeing to write without any real rules. Many of the songs don’t follow typical formats and chord structures but rather fold in upon themselves in a cyclical way, patterns indirectly inspired by music he heard in Turkey and Argentina. “It’s almost mortifying to be so honest and direct”) initially confused the other players with their unusual structures.
Inspired by reading-up on personal hero Roy Orbison, who spoke of throwing out the rulebook of what a pop song should be, Hamilton thought; “I've already quit music, so I might not even make these songs into anything other than things I play for myself… so let's just see where they go on their own.” The songs were so different from anything that he had done before that Hamilton even toyed with changing the name to create a new beginning, a fresh start.
Despite being under the same Woodpigeon moniker, T R O U B L E is a huge step forward and the finest album of a storied career.
2.The Falling Tide
5.No Word Of A Lie
9.Whole Body Shakes