“I could live in this bright orange everglow world for a while,” said singer-songwriter elijah woods on his newest project, a semi-surprise release dedicated to his bride-to-be. “I love the Nashville sound… low key easy listening. That’s definitely my pocket right now.” bright orange everglow, his second EP release this year following what if it was great?, is a complete shift in sound from the soft electro-pop of the latter project. Lead single “24/7, 365” set the tone, and is accompanied by four additional tender up-to-date revelations of love and personal triumph.
woods is a multi-faceted performer enjoying solo success after breaking onto the scene as part of a duo. He is adept at creating sonic soundscapes within the electronic world, but is just as secure, if not more so, stripping a song down to the bones. In a performance at Union Station in Toronto that can be seen on the TD Music Connected Series channel on YouTube, he did just that. Sitting at the piano in an empty hall, he begins the set with “wildfire,” a cut from his debut EP look what we made. He croons his way through the lovestruck ballad with his eyes closed and his soft, breathy tone, similar to Abner James of Eighty Ninety, taking center stage. He does the same on “fingers crossed,” his popular reinterpretation of the Lauren Spencer Smith track that went viral ten times over on TikTok.
That level of intimacy and connection is the thesis statement of bright orange everglow, which is out now.
bright orange everglow
On “if you want love,” woods establishes that he hasn’t just found his ‘for now,’ but rather his ‘forever.’ “After three years and six months I’m on a knee / Would you spend your whole life with me? / Saying if you want love it’ll always be easy for me / Forever till the end / When there’s nothing left / I got you and you got me.” He refers to the three years and six months on “24/7, 365,” as well, almost as if he called it in that moment: “It’s been three years and six whole months since I saw your face that night / It took five seconds to fall in love and two more to make you mine.”
“This project is all in that Nashville singer-songwriter pocket produced with slide guitar, banjo, acoustic guitars, live drums… the whole thing,” he said on bright orange everglow. “To me, it’s my favorite color palette of a project I’ve ever done.” The paper-thin lushness of by-the-book country tunes like “I Told You So” by Randy Travis and “Goodbye Time” by Conway Twitty is heard prominently on “where we’re going” and closing track “last girl.” Just the mere mention of the latter track nearly took woods out of his seat: “It’s you and me in the August heat / The bright orange everglow / The southern sky /When it hits your eyes there ain’t nowhere I wanna go.”
With three EP’s under his belt so far, a debut solo album is surely the next step. But it’ll be on his terms. “You only get one chance at a debut album,” he said. “I would love for it to just be the right moment. Creatively, I haven’t written anything that I’ve thought, ‘This feels album-worthy.’ I think having as much experience as I do musically, not that I know anything, but I know enough and I know there are better songs to come. I know that when I hit something like I did on bright orange everglow sonically… when I can hit that, and when I can fill up 12 songs like that, that’s the time for an album.”
A to Z
His complicated yet intrinsic relationship with creating and fine-tuning every aspect of his music is certainly a factor in his ability to be vulnerable. It also allows him to be critical, sometimes to a fault. “I’m in a funny place ’cause I produce everything, I write a lot of the stuff myself… I’m kind of A to Z,” he said. “I mix, master, record, promote… everything. I own my own records. I’m fully independent. A lot of artists have to stick with a project and promote it forever… because I’m fully independent, I can always move onto the next thing.”
Music That Works, But Doesn’t Speak
Lyrically, woods’ lyrics are vivid, raw, and uniquely true to him and his personal experiences. Just like another Canadian who wrote about rain on a wedding day and bugging a man during dinner. On “who you could be,” a cut off what if it was great?, he sings, “Talking Jesus over tea and she’s staring right at me like I’m the anti-Christ for teaching you there’s more to life,” while on “easier said,” sings, “Goodnight in New York / A place on the park / Thought it’d be nice to show ya / I miss you the most / From coffee and robes and cinnamon toast to closure.
“Things just comes out and you decide what it is after the fact,” he said about his writing style. “I’ll sit down and start telling myself those stories again and relive those moments. The more specific you are, the more opportunity people have to relate. The Beatles are the greatest songwriters of all time, but the days are gone of writing, ‘She loves me/Yeah, yeah, yeah,’ and have it cut through in the same way anymore. You need to grab people. When I write lyrics, it has to resonate with me before it resonates with anyone else. And even if it doesn’t resonate with anyone else, that sucks. I HAD to write the song.”
That authenticity and level of humility is, partly, what separates woods from the rest. “This is maybe a bit macro of the music industry, but I think it’s very easy to make music that works, but not music that actually speaks,” he said. “I don’t make music to consistently put out things that are going to drive income. I love sitting in a studio and pining over a lyric for three to five days and then being like, ‘This sucks, so I’m not going to put it out.’ It’s probably pretty egocentric, but I’m literally just trying to take what is in my head and put it on paper in the best way I can.”