Royal Wood Ghost Light

Royal Wood Ghost Light
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Fans of sunny, breezy folk-oriented pop will delight in Royal Wood's Ghost Light. The Peterborough-born, Toronto-based songwriter's new LP is unabashedly suited for Top 40 radio, but thankfully, he doesn't forsake inventiveness in pursuit of broad appeal.
 
Many of the album's songs have a distinctive mix of slick modern production and timeless acoustic touches. "Come Back to You," for instance, sports a percolating synth riff deftly married to clapping percussion and organic piano notes. Then there's "I Was the Man," which boasts a backing choir's wistful sighs, orchestral flourishes and percussion that sounds like congas meshing flawlessly with peppy electro beats.
 
Some of the album's other tunes, however, skew more toward the traditional. "Dear Anna" and "Ghost Light" are threadbare piano ballads that will tug at your heartstrings, while "I'm Gonna Marry You" features springy acoustic strums (that sound like a mandolin or a ukulele) over rattling percussion. In lesser hands, the tune could've turned schmaltzier than a Jason Mraz hit, but while cynics will still sneer at this song's cutesy-ness, most listeners will be won over by Wood's conviction and some of his beautifully poetic lines, particularly "The moon up there's a spotlight / Phosphorescent glow in our eyes."
 
Indeed, Mraz types might want to take heed — if they're not careful, percolating talents like Wood will steal their fans away with such subtler, more eclectic takes on mass-appeal pop. (Cadence Music Group)