This ‘Wooden Sky’ article was written by Steven Loftin, a GIGsoup contributor

3.5*If you want the earnestness and melodic qualities of David Gray with the riding power of an early, pre-‘War’ U2, then you came to the right place. ‘Let’s Be Ready’ is a collection of songs that will pull you in all of the emotional directions it can before disposing of you with a kiss to the forehead and a fake phone number.

Likewise, if you’re unfamiliar with the previous works of The Wooden Sky, then this is a good place to start. You’ll find the band at their most together, having finally figured out how to recreate that ever-magical live sound in the studio, whilst simultaneously creating a raw atmosphere not much amiss from a bedroom band’s early demos.

Opener ‘Saturday Night’ is a classic indie-rock song; drinking and girls being the subject matter. It’s not quite built to be anthemic, but the ground works are in place. Pounding drums, check; wailing harmonised guitars, check; heartfelt lyrics, check.

Then, we’re led into ‘Our Hearts Were Young’, still seeing us through with an easy-going rock jam. The beautifully harmonised backing vocals create an airy backdrop suitably juxtaposed to that of singer Gavin Gardiner’s perfectly imperfect wail requesting you to “let your freak flag fly” before entering into a wonderfully apt, crescendoing guitar solo, once again high upon the bed of those backing vocals.

‘Baby Hold On’ is where things let up after the pleasingly bruising introduction to the album. A swaying, light ode about the missing piece in your life, think Alabama Shakes at their most relaxed. Things don’t change up much; it does what a good soft blues song should and goes for your emotive reaction more than a metaphysical one.

Musically getting more creative through ‘When The Day Is Fresh…’, they experiment with chord changes that take you by surprise and keep you on your toes – just in case you were starting to know what to expect. This is where the change ends, keeping in line with the tracks before it: some more of those thundering drums and wailing guitars.

Now we’re at the halfway point, both ‘Kansas City’ and ‘Write Them Down’ slow the pace down to craft songs that, were they anywhere else on the album, wouldn’t work. Think of this as a sonic version of having to flip the record – a small break giving you time to reflect. The band certainly haven’t forgotten their roots with these softer tracks breaking up the newfound mayhem.

One of the heavier moments comes just after halfway with the track ‘Maybe It’s No Secret’ – a rollicking track that really brings out the fuzz in fuzz folk. This picks up the pace we found at the beginning of the record, bringing your attention back to the lyrics about life and love.

The highlight of the record is ‘Shake For Me’. It comprises all of the above details into just over four and a half minutes. Everything that makes this newfound sound a part of the band is present. It’s a wonderfully crafted sonic soundscape that relies upon the heartfelt lyrics and a penchant for a good, old fashioned wailing guitar solo.

The final two songs form the only acoustic parts of the album, which just confirms the direction change to a more rounded band sound, rather than the folkier side of things. The last message the band leaves you with is the final track, ‘Don’t You Worry About a Thing’. Soft, soothing and true to its word, you won’t give a damn about anything else once you finish this record.

‘Let’s Be Ready’ is out now on Chelsea Records.

3.5*

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