Recently I had the chance to review the award nominated, once-upon-a-time Nova Scotian musician of the year, Ian Sherwood’s latest album: Everywhere To Go. With little need for introduction, let’s get to business.
Opening with the title track, Sherwood mixes the gravity of a ballad and the pickup of an inspirational tune by way of a peppy guitar strum, a heavy piano, and heartfelt harmonies. A wonderful breakdown with musical pull at the bridge, complete with a chorus of clapping and singing, and beautiful vocal play overtop, it’s clear that Sherwood certainly has ‘Everywhere To Go’.
A soulful, gospel love story, Ian is “in love with a non-believer”. Recounting the struggle of loving a free-spirited woman who knows he’ll always be there to save her. Singing in the round with tambourine and that seemingly signature, slightly tinny guitar, one gets the eerily uplifting feeling of attending an evangelical service, though whether or not for good reason, one is not at liberty to say.
Cute country picking and a raspy verse bring us to what seems to be a cautionary tale against the previous track, ‘Stop, Don’t Fall In Love’. Though it’s clear that “it’s too late for that”, Sherwood’s biblical allusions add an epic quality to this sombre and musically subtle song. Reminiscent of Jack Johnson, the ironic sex appeal in Ian’s vocal quality certainly does not dissuade one from falling in love.
“[They] burned it all at the Fireman’s Ball”, and another love story goes up in flames, and ends in ashes. A ballad of bereavement, the solo piano and lilting lyrics say all, without need for the penetrating percussion, heckling horns, or garish guitar, though the feedback leading into the last line “ashes to ashes; dust to dust, nothing remains of us”, was a great way of leaving the cacophony of sound with the feeling of embers being choked of their last light, and perhaps was the musical design of the track to begin with.
A pounding beat to break in this tune, with some sexy strumming, and vocal veracity, Sherwood trills along the track with some backing bass vocals, and heraldic harmonies above, while the backroad banjo bounces along to this dance of “dollar signs”, in ‘Me Or Your Money’.
A ‘Big Love’ story born under the Centennial Bridge on P.E.I., palm mutes its intro with a fantastically catchy chorus. An adventurous spirit sings through Sherwood, connecting along the winding roads back to the East Coast to his Big Love. Guitar and drums chug along through verse and chorus, and backing vocals call out over the divide of these long-distance-lovers, until the bridge takes us to a sonorously soft musical pull, where the chorus is sung in a rowdy round, lifting those lovers’ spirits “up on the bridge over [their] Big Love”
Smoothing out the mood in sombre sweetness, Sherwood shares a loves that’s “not right, but…right right now.” Perhaps a forbidden love, carried out over a hammering guitar and piano with sleeves full of heart; “needing a lift to feel alive”, yearning for the touch we all need before we die, he pleads, “kiss me quick / before we change our minds.” The most honest, and touching song on this album, Sherwood gives us all a glimpse into our own hearts through the heroic honesty of his.
Heading south and west in this barren, Bible-belt, cowboy ballad, Ian picks back up towards gospel with a devilish din about wasting away with ‘No Water’. A family dwindling in the desert; a generation cut short by the heat – “a thief that you can’t outrun” – this closing track of Sherwood’s Everywhere To Go, is certainly a tale of deprivation, perhaps figuratively coupled with his ongoing motifs of love and faith.
One thing is for sure, Ian Sherwood has indeed Everywhere To Go, and his new album is worth the purchase. Check it out HERE.