Published Jul 01, 2016Roy Woods' debut Waking at Dawn shows flashes of maturity from the 20-year-old, but suffers from a soporific sonic palette and a reluctance to let his pain carry the load.
While the album's ambient tone pairs well with the OVO protégé's vocal timbre, the production flirts more with monotony than it does cohesion, with the meat of Woods' lyrics doing it few favours. The bulk of WaD's dozen tracks deal with his trials involving the opposite sex, from the raunchy, patois-tinged single "Gwan Big Up Urself" to the "it's not you, it's me" ditty "Menace." As for his rapping ability, Woods only flaunts it on "You Love It," letting his restrained, Weeknd-reminiscent singing dominate the LP instead. The Brampton native's range, while complementary to the production, is obviously limited, and his failure to fully emote on phonics only aggravates the issue.
As on his debut EP Exis, Woods' saving grace is his honesty, even when he abandons his lady troubles; "How I Feel," his pledge to put himself first and ride the wave of his Drake and co. backing second, and "Switch," where he recognizes the duplicitous bi-products of his newfound success, are shining examples thereof. Woods has plenty to say, but he's yet to develop a voice that does his words justice. (OVO Sound / Warner Bros.)