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The future burns bright for singer-songwriter Royal Wood

Juno-nominated musician pays his first visit to Whistler on Feb. 1 after writing a new album in Ireland

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Royal Wood laughs when asked about his stage style, with his inclination toward sartorial elegance and the absence of tattoo sleeves.

The singer-songwriter, who plays at Millennium Place on Saturday, Feb. 1, says his habit of wearing suits with waistcoats can be attributed to family influence.

"I was always a well-dressed kid. There was a while I wore the jeans and the plaid shirt starting out in music but my first cover was me in a suit," he recalls.

"It was part of my upbringing, my father always taught us to dress well when we went to a restaurant and how to tie a tie. But it's also due to the musicians I grew up with, I really revered the performer and theatre artist with this kind of presentation. And I want to be professional when I'm on stage."

Now a decade or so into in a career that has been built on touring and seven albums and EPs, Wood is playing in Whistler for the first time.

"I've never been through Whistler.... I'm trying to bring a world-class performance, so it's the full band, with professional lighting and professional sound to bring to life the albums that I've made," he says.

"I don't think we have to do major stops and call it a day. There are fans everywhere... I want to see the country and what an amazing way to do it."

He will showcase a lot of his news songs, but wants to play his better-known ones, too.

"There are six or seven new songs, but it's 'An Evening With' and there are two 45-minutes sets so there will be a lot of music," Wood adds.

All this is to support his latest album, The Burning Bright, which will be released on March 18. The first single, Forever and Ever, has already become the most successful single in Wood's career, having been picked up and promoted by CHUM across Canada.

Most of the songs on The Burning Bright were created during an incredibly prolific period of writing in Ireland in May and June last year. Wood rented a cabin near his family's ancestral home of Rathkenny in County Meath.

Armed with only his digital recorder and pens and paper, he came back with 40 new songs written in six weeks.

"I disappeared into a little cottage in the middle of farmers' fields... I didn't have to tell anybody what I did," he says.

"I never had an agenda; I didn't make a to-do list. I didn't take conference calls and business scheduling. I just got to exist and be an artist again, and I hadn't done that, unfortunately, for way too long."

He even warned his team that he didn't expect to write music, but the muses had their say in the end.

Wood's marriage to Canadian singer Sarah Slean had ended and he wanted to reflect both on that and on his previous album, We Were Born to Glory, an album that debuted in the Top 25 of the Canadian album charts and was nominated for a Juno. He says he felt it hadn't been as artistically fulfilling as he'd wanted and he'd started second guessing himself in his quest to make a successful pop album.

"I still don't feel connected to that record really. I just felt I had to go back to making art for art's sake and not think about the industry, my career, what it meant, if the fans were going to like it, none of those things," he says.

Ironically and interestingly, Forever and Ever was not written in Ireland like the rest of album.

"I was in Los Angeles visiting my brother and his wife... I wrote this song, recorded, everything, all in one day. I thought 'Wow, I really like this song and it is so different from anything I've ever written,'" Wood says.

"When I got back (from Ireland) we realized this song still had a real place in the story and it does work, as positive and up-tempo and upbeat as it is. It was one moment of fresh air that I thought the album required."

Wood tours through to February, then he is producing "a couple of records," followed by more touring, summer festivals and a last leg of touring.

"There's a lot coming up," he says.

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