Published Aug 29, 2014If history were to repeat itself, the Wooden Sky's fourth album would, like it predecessors, begin with a tender acoustic guitar and frontman Gavin Gardiner's solemn voice. Instead, an oscillating drone, lively drum beat and string of bright guitars comprise Let's Be Ready's opening moments, proving the Toronto roots rockers aren't out to simply repeat past successes. Sure, the dreamy retro-pop of "Baby, Hold On" brings to mind "Malibu Rum" from 2012's Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun, but the uplifting "When The Day is Fresh and the Light is New" and standout track "Our Hearts Were Young" traverse new soundscapes, assertively filling the sonic space left vacant by the late Great Bloomers.
Littered amongst the energetically raw indie-rock tunes are the quieter likes of the acoustic title track and heartbreaking "Kansas City," on which Gardiner's signature quiver passionately conveys troubled love and the hardships of life on the road (the same stresses that inspired the band to release the album on their own label). But Let's Be Ready never feels overly morose, nor does it fall into the trap of iterating painfully cheerful life-affirming mantras. Instead, its subtle strength lies in its ability to brilliantly capture a wide, and oft ambiguous, spectrum of emotion: devastation, contentedness, hope and everything in between. Whatever feelings and memories they're conjuring on Let's Be Ready, the Wooden Sky sound confident — and with the quality of this record, they have every reason to be. (Chelsea)