If you’ve been following the blog recently, you’ll have seen American singer songwriter Will Wood’s name pop up a few times. Back in May, I discovered him through the wonderful single Cicada Days. He followed it with the experimental You Liked This (Okay, Computer!), then the triumphantly nihilistic White Noise. All three tracks feature on his new album “In case I make it,”. I simply had to give it a listen.
By Graeme Smith
“In case I make it,” is a sixteen-track journey through the whole gamut of Will’s musical styles. It was clear from the singles that it was always going to be a diverse album, but the variety on display still feels remarkable. It opens with Tomcat Disposables, a gently acoustic piece that showcases Will’s poetic lyrics that elevate both the everyday and the surreal to something exceptional.
Becoming The Lastnames is a seven and half minute meditation on the concept of marriage, tradition and generational learning – the good and the bad. Will picked up the baritone ukulele for this album and it features prominently here. It leads nicely into the aforementioned Cicada Days, which is altogether more rooted in the world of here and now. Its dramatic climax still gives me goose bumps.
Next is the darkly vaudevillian Euthanasia, a eulogy for a lost pet. Falling Up is a fast-flowing, Billy Joel-reminiscent feast of wordplay. That’s Enough, Let’s Get You Home. is a gently intimate existential crisis. Um, It’s Kind of a Lot has a jaunty take on the subject of fear and anxiety. Half-Decade Hangover rounds off the album’s first half, a starkly vulnerable confession of Will’s low points which ends on a high.
While the first half of “In case I make it,” was largely folk and folk-adjacent, in the second half, Will starts to branch out genre-wise. Vampire Reference in a Minor Key is a Latin-infused tale of being an outsider. You Liked This (Okay, Computer!) satirises social media against a backdrop of experimental neoclassicalism. The Main Character mixes classic rock and roll with layers of whimsical pop. It plays like the villain’s song in a Disney film and proves to be a wonderful highlight.
Against The Kitchen Floor brings chamber pop. A jazzy groove makes it a surprising moment of danceability. Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll subverts the expectations of its title by being a downbeat piano-led ballad. Big Fat Bitchie’s Blueberry Pie, Christmas Tree and Recreational Jell-o Emporium… is a delicious piece of absurdity that has a title longer than its runtime.
The album’s penultimate track is Willard! It’s a theatrical, orchestrated piece that aims to take us all down a peg or two (with its tongue firmly in its cheek, of course). The orchestration flows through to album closer White Noise. A contrast to the sickening lows, it’s a triumphant high. It stares into the face of the abyss and smiles.
“In case I make it,” is, without a doubt, my album of the year so far. There are very few songwriter as accomplished as Will Wood and it’s frankly shocking that his music isn’t more widely celebrated. Hopefully this album release will change that. You can listen to the whole album below.