Striking the right tone is important for Will Stratton. Over the course of five full-length albums, several online-only releases and national attention from outlets like NPR, Stratton has strived to impart a balance between the eloquent lyrical perspectives festooning his music, and his ever-evolving approach to multi-tiered folk. So when his new LP, Gray Lodge Wisdom, was written and recorded while Stratton underwent a year of chemotherapy, several extensive surgeries, and other treatment stemming from a diagnosis of late-stage testicular cancer in 2012, Stratton is understandably conflicted about the way his new record might come across.
"I hope that this doesn't come across as a Record About Cancer, because it's not," explains Stratton, whose clarity is potent from the start. The title track, written in the final days of his treatment, opens with the line, "Why sing about death when I just almost died?/Why sing about life when I'm still alive?" The song's painfully autobiographical questioning of forging ahead with the thrum of one's creative output is stunningly self-aware, and an apt portent for the remaining sentiments found on Gray Lodge Wisdom.
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