Great songs are born twice; first when the artist puts the story they wish to tell and the feelings they wish to express to music, and the second time when the song eventually gets released into the world. That is when a song takes on new life in people’s minds. They attach their own feelings to it, form their own stories, make the song their own. Be it the kind of song suited to staring out the window on a rainy day contemplating life, or for striding down the street with head held high feeling like the world can’t touch you, great songs spark the imagination of all who hear them. Wreathed in menace and mystery, ‘Pickaxe’ is the kind of song that could take on a million and one different meanings. For me the ominous atmosphere, equally menacing and melancholy, conjures up images of some grizzled old gunslinger in the wild west; feared by all and sundry, but tired of a life on the run. Where will this glorious piece of gothic Americana lead you? What will you discover?
When I’m feeling lost or lonely I often find the best remedy is to sit outside and try to feel one with the world. Close your eyes, feel the wind brush against your skin, hear the birds singing, and try to feel like a part of something greater. It’s something that I’ve struggled to put into words in the past, but I feel like the new song from Woods End manages to express it perfectly. The spiralling melodies recalling flocks of birds spiralling in the sky, the soft swell of cymbals like waves crashing upon the shore, it’s dark subdued atmosphere hanging over you like a thin veil of mist; they write tracks that feel in tune with nature like no one else. But in its calls of “how I got here I don’t know” it also captures that feeling of being adrift and alone, offering solace in the fact that you’re not the only one looking for meaning.
There’s something special about bands that capture the very soul of their homeland, whether it’s Americana artists embodying the sparseness of the desert or surf rock bands sharing the playfulness of the waves. Swedish band Woods End are one of the finest examples of this that I have ever come across. With ‘Lanterns/Allhelgona’ they paint a scene of the frozen north at twilight. The sparse folk arrangement conjures an image of somewhere isolated and at the mercy of nature, the harmonies rise and fall like they are echoing across the frozen expanse for only the mountains and forests to hear. The haunting melancholy of this track has a timeless feel, like it has been shared by the fireside for as long as there have been people to sing it. There’s an ancient magic at work here, as this song draws you in and you find yourself never wanting to leave.