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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

George Woods - Heartbeat

George Woods – Heartbeat
2012, George Woods

Boston singer/songwriter George Woods explores deep emotions and deeper thoughts on his debut album Heartbeat. Earning comparisons to artists such as James Morrison and Ray Lamontagne, Woods sings with a singular voice about human frailty, insecurity and hope amidst deeply nuanced and often beautiful folk/rock arrangements.

Kicking things off with "Overture/Rewind", Woods makes his introductions through a finely crafted orchestral entr'acte. The non-linguistic vocals create an eerie air that's stark and lovely. "Shake My Soul" is driven by the sort if hopeless urgency that's born of burgeoning and sometimes unrequited love. "Wasn't Enough" is an energetic and messy breakup song that's an interesting mix of darkness and light. There's a distinct pop feel at the heart of this song, an air that is complicated by messy layers and an unpolished sound that's fitting here.  "Stock In The Stars" is an infectiously upbeat bohemian folk rocker about the hopes, dreams and the redeeming power of love. Woods is entirely on here, in one of the most endearing songs on the album. "Marry Me" is just what it sounds like. The funk infused soul pop number is from the heart, and has the potential to become a mix-tape and dedication favorite.

Woods takes a more desolate turn on "Chapter 3: The Moon", mixing voices and strings in a brief bit repetitive cantata that seems incomplete. "Running Away" takes more focus on while exploring an inexplicable draw to flight and how that tendency comes face to face with unexpected love. The song is a disorganized mess musically, but manages to work in spite of this (perhaps because the presentation and the message are so closely aligned). Woods returns to a dark and lonely musical landscape for "You Are The Moon", written from the depths of unrequited love. There is an elemental beauty here, with the distance finely etched into haunting vocals and strings.

"Heartbeat" sinks into morass where lust overcomes love and good intentions. Woods once again ventures into messy musical territory in conjunction with a messy emotional story. "Trying To Get Back" starts out disheveled, but resolves in its final 30 seconds to a bright and airy folk/rock song. "Lucky One" celebrates being in love in joyous terms. The funky folk-rock style has an easy, swinging feel that reflects the carefree nature of the moment captured here. "You Are The Sun" takes a more esoteric look at the same emotions as Woods contemplates having come full circle. This turns into a mid-tempo waltz that is perhaps overly emotive but is generally well done. Woods closes with the requisite happy ending on "The Wedding Song". Wind chimes and stumbling guitar walk guests down the aisle to their virtual seats, while Woods incantation the past ala Sting on "The Secret Marriage". The song is a reflection backward from the mundane give and take of everyday life years later. Woods creates a moment here that is palpable and decidedly real.
George Woods reflects the emotional highs and lows of love in the music of heartbeat, The journey through quiet desperation; falling in love; getting married and into the mundane existence of everyday life captured in words and notes throughout Heartbeat.  The end result is as hard to get through at times as individual moments along the way, but the presentation is wonderfully artistic and real.  Woods does have a distinctive melodic sensibility, and likes to play off the beaten path at times, but he’s a gamer, always gutting out the rough performances but as often as not turning in a gem.
Rating:  3.5 Stars (Out of 5)
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