Listen to this track by folk-pop singer-songwriter who hails from just down the road from where this is being written – Abbotsford, British Columbia. It’s Joel Willoughby with the single “Hazelnut Moon”, as taken from his 2010 EP Rain & Pocket Change, his third EP.
Even though Willoughby is a local artist to this blog, he was raised abroad, specifically in Kenya where he attended an English boarding school. It was while he was abroad that he picked up a sense of the world’s diversity. And it was during this period that his imaginative impulses as a songwriter emerged.
Later, he’d be a member of Maplewood Lane, and Dawntreader – as a drummer. Then, it was coffeehouses and folk festivals as a solo artist here in the Pacific Northwest, along with two EPs (Closer to Home in 2004, and Do You Have Something To Say? in 2008).
Here on this song, it’s the pop hooks and an almost child-like sensibility that makes it shine. Easily avoiding the trap of being over-earnest, there’s whimsy to be found here to balance off what can be found in the lyrics; a song about being unavoidably in love, and knowing that the end is inevitable even before it starts.
Apart from the lyrics, it’s the arrangement that makes it an appealing pop confection, with subtle electronics, ebullient mallet percussion, and sparkling banjo supporting a wide instrumental spectrum. Maybe it’s the whistling part that caps it off, an element that is irresistible enough to have enabled the song to enjoy some radio play here locally, and to be an effervescent feature on stage in front of a crowd too.
Last week, I got to see Joel, along with keyboardist and singer Lindy Enns, and multi-instrumentalist (and producer) Jonathan Anderson, at the Biltmore Cabaret.
And we all whistled along.
If you want to whistle along at home, and for those of you who are more visually-inclined, check out the video for “Hazelnut Moon”, which is of the same spirit as the song itself, created by James Adkins.
To catch Joel Willoughby live yourself, you can review the show schedules at JoelWilloughby.com.
Also, be sure to check out his newest EP, with the self-evident title of The Radio Friendly EP, which features a new track, plus some remixes of some of his older material.