As The Whiskey Priest, musician Seth Woods (along with friend Alex "Hooch" Dupree) has managed to make something truly beautiful here. For BlackPlastic, opener 'A Seafarer's Lament' totally captures the feeling of the void that fills the room when the person you love leaves it. It is the sound of a man at the mercy of his feelings - a statement that the way you feel about someone is beyond your control. You would do as well to try and change the seasons or the passing of night and day as you would choose to stop loving someone.
So from the start Wave and Cloud has a level of raw emotional impact that it is simply not possible to ignore. If 'A Seafarer's Lament' is a powerful start to an album then second track 'If a Train Was a Doctor Was a Song' is a small miracle - it manages to calm down the fire in the belly and yet still sports a heart so big on its sleeve the it must almost be physically weighing down Woods down. With an opening line like "If I was a train I would carry you along" it is pretty clear that Wave and Cloud is a gift in the form of music - it feels like Woods would be prepared to give the shirt off his back and more to the subject of his music.
But this isn't an album of passive, yet gutsy ballads - witness the defiant country stomp of 'No Man is an Island (But Me)', where The Whiskey Priest may be left wanting but certainly ain't going to buckle to demands. It's a lovely poke in the eye to the wistful romance the pervades other parts of the album. Similarly 'All The Way Back' feels like a triumphant bar room singalong and you can't help but wish you were somewhere with sawdust on the floor, bourbon in hand and a stage too small for the band's sounds so you could join in.
There has been a bit of a renaissance in recent years in honest country and folk based sing-songwriter music. Some of it is good and some of it bad and some of it just slept-on. Wave and Cloud may well end up being that latter, but one thing is for sure - it certainly wouldn't fit in the second category. This is the kind of honest, and unfussy music that is just to frank and beautiful to not love. If 2008 belonged to Bon Iver, then The Whiskey Priest deserves 2010.
Wave and Cloud is out on Rainboot today, available from Amazon.co.uk on CD [affiliate link].