Written as a self-described “therapy album,” Billy Woodward’s The Boy from the Bay covers the scope of human struggling with vivid imagery, evocative lyricism and brilliant instrumentation.
Detailing everything from grief, substance abuse, traveling to salvation, Woodward’s album reflects the stark realities of the world as he sees it.
Putting listeners directly into what feels like a modern-day Western, Woodward melds his voice to fit different tones and textures with remarkable dexterity. From the gritty opener of “South Country” to the soulful “Honesty Blues,” there’s something to be said for Woodward’s ability to create a simultaneously cohesive record while letting each track stand apart.
Recorded at Studio G in Brooklyn, New York, The Boy from the Bay was produced by John Jackson (The Jayhawks, Ray Davies) and mixed at Philips Recording in Memphis, Tennessee by Matt Ross-Spang (John Prine, Jason Isbell). Other talent on the record includes Austin Cook, Ramblin’ Rob Heath and other musical heavy hitters. Boasting a roster of seasoned professionals, Woodward’s collaborative spirit allows his debut full-length album to transcend to new heights.
In addition to the singer’s vocal versatility and standout features is his knack for captivating narrative storytelling. In “Watch It All Fall Down,” the evocative strings and delicate percussion drive Woodward’s voice as he sings woefully, “Love is lost, and so are we. Every shadow is following, without worry of what could be further down.”
Then, in arguably the most stirring of tracks, Woodward divulges the dark depths of what it’s like to spiral into a depression on “Mourning Light.”
“My mind is an old time song
with a worn out melody that’s been spinning far too long.
And I should not be alone tonight, for the one I love ain’t here to set me right,
so I’ll hang my hope on the mourning light,”
Drawing in listeners with lyrics steeped in imagery and metaphors, Woodward allows listeners to attach their own struggles to the stories he shares.
Despite the heaviness of certain subjects, the album’s closer and title track round out the record by cultivating an air of redemption and resolution. Detailing his experience as a Chesapeake Bay native, “the boy from the bay” might have “lost his way” and “ain’t ever gonna be the same,” but that’s okay. In this way, by being so forthright throughout the record, The Boy from the Bay displays sonic solidarity, validating the struggles of the human experience.