Bio/Reviews

SHORT BIO:

Haunting, Appalachian-influenced banjo songs and Judy Garland-likened vocals have won acclaim from NPR, No Depression, The Boston Globe, My Old Kentucky Blog, and have been featured on National Geographic ("Departures"), MTV ("My Life as Liz")the Twilight Series ("Twilight in Forks"), The Cartoon Network ("Mongo Wrestling Alliance") and on Fox's "So You Think you Can Dance." Woodward’s songs blend her southern roots with the urban folk sounds of Boston and New York. With a distinctive banjo playing style and refined lyrics, this young lawyer turned songwriter has been well received by audiences across the US and in Europe. Just after its release, Woodward’s sophomore album "Speck" made it into the top 200 college radio charts in the United States and Canada. She has appeared on numerous National Public Radio programs as well as national television in the U.S, (Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance”) and Australia (nationally televised drama series “The Wall”). Her song "Secrets" is in the Twilight Series, and the title track of her most recent album, "Speck" is featured in the feature film, "The Fat Boy Chronicles."  She is currently touring  and promoting her latest album, "It's a Good Life Honey If You Don't Grow Weary." She is represented by Constant Clip Records in the US, and Continental Record Services in Europe.







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Album Review: "It's a Good Life, Honey, If You Don't Grow Weary" by Alexa Woodward Matthew Jackson, ITZ Magazine


Alexa Woodward’s melodic, easygoing music is the kind of thing that simmers in your ribcage, builds to your heart and then explodes into waves of warmth and aching sorrow (It’s like Stephen Moffat once wrote: “Sad is happy for deep people.”). It’s never not beautiful, but as you keep listening, it becomes extraordinary.

It’s a Good Life, Honey, If You Don’t Grow Weary, named for a pet phrase of Woodward’s great grandmother, has all the maturity that it should for a third album, but none of the pretentiousness that seems to come with being a rising folk sensation. 
Woodward’s songs have made their way into the soundtrack of Twilight in Forks, National Geographic's Departures, MTV's Life with Liz and promos for Adult Swim shows, but the music doesn’t feel affected by this wave of recognition. It’s genuine, confident and full of soul.

Most of that soul comes from Woodward’s voice. You can almost imagine her sharing a stage with Joan Baez or Joni Mitchell at some politically-tinged, flowery rally in the midst of the Summer of Love. The magic in Weary builds to a crescendo when Woodward and her backing vocalists take their voices up into the stratosphere of songs like “Darkest Days” and “Pillar of Salt.” The vocals swim along through the verses, and as the song builds they crash like swells of tide on rocks, and hearing it is a little like living this plane of existence just for a moment.

The result is an album that’s part folk, part bluegrass, part gospel, and all gorgeous. Experiencing Alexa Woodward is like plunging down into an imagined world where everything is green and wondrous and glistening with discovery. It’s a new place, and it needs further exploring.

‘It’s a Good Life Honey, If You Don’t Grow Weary” will be available at www.CDBaby.com and www.alexawoodward.org on Feb. 8, and will arrive on www.itunes.com and Pandora Radio in March.


Album Review: "It's a Good Life, Honey, If You Don't Grow Weary" by Alexa Woodward 

Michael Berick, No Depression


I first heard Alexa Woodward in 2009 with her impressive album, Speck. The New York City-based Woodward makes spare, rustic music that feels drawn from her Southern roots (she grew up in Virginia and South Carolina).

Her latest offering It's A Good Life, Honey If You Don't Grow Weary (available online in February) is a joy to listen to. She does a terrific job of gently fleshing out her sound while retaining its delicate Americana feel. Woodward plays banjo and ukulele; however, her songs make use of vibephones, cello, washboard, percussions and even some electric instruments. An electric guitar, for instance, howls in the background of “Wolves” to compliment its title and its eerie tale.

Her music nicely balances old-timey and contemporary elements. Her songs, which are frequently relationship-based, mix images of the past and the present “All That Sugar” holds the line “and I bet you don’t have good sex/when your blood’s all full of gold,“ while in “Elephant,” she tells an ex-lover that “I hope Nina treats you right/that Copenhagen’s kind /that you sleep sound every night” among fanciful imagery of traveling over mountains and water.

Throughout the disc, Woodward displays a strong lyrical command. She begins “O Tornado” with “drive across the county line/Salinger and Andrew Wyeth/betwixt, between the time/where the frozen clocks are awful quiet” and doesn’t come across as a freshman lit major. “Pillar of Salt” similarly shows a deft poetic touch as she mixes biblical references and emotional revelations.

When Woodward harmonizes with frequent collaborator Linky Dickson, they suggest a more rural version of the Roches. Abigail Washburn and Gillian Welch also serve as touch points here; however, Woodward forges her own sound – something that’s modern and timeless, lilting and melancholic - during this thoroughly delightful disc. With her exquisitely crafted third effort, Woodward seems on poised for big things.
-Michael Berick, No Depression


SHORT QUOTES:

"Many of Alexa Woodward's banjo-driven folk songs slowly slink like fog down from the Appalachian mountains and hills of Virgina and wrap your soul in melancholy. Woodward's 2009 release, Speck, is full of subtle textures and well-matched harmonies that support interesting and well-written narratives." -MOKB


"Woodward’s songs are like mountain music with an MFA. References to Tolstoy and Harper Lee slip into her dark-hued, old-timey tunes; however, she’s doesn’t sound liked an affected musical anthropologist appropriating native backwoods sounds. Although based out of New York City, Woodward grew up in Virginia and South Carolina so there is an easy naturalness to her rural porch music... Alexa Woodward impresses both in concert and on disc, making her someone for Americana connoisseurs to keep an eye on." -- Michael Berick, NO DEPRESSION

"There’s something totally disarming about the way Woodward sings, with a roundness to her voice that plainly bears the mark of a Southern upbringing. But unlike delicate chanteuse Gillian Welch’s sepia-toned obsession with a bygone era, you don’t get the sense that Woodward needs a vintage dress to create authenticity. She surrounds her voice with plucky banjo, singing saw and wistful mandolin, which give her songs a gothic quality, as on “Spoon,” a song with lyrics as cryptic as those of Joanna Newsom. But to Woodward’s credit, her music is nowhere near as indulgent. For all the spare arrangements and spacious melodies, it’s her voice that takes the stage." --EUGENE WEEKLY

"Comparisons abound. She’s been likened to singers such as Neko Case, Joanna Newsom, and Gillian Welch, placing Alexa Woodward in very good company. However, despite the temptation to draft countless other musical similes to describe Alexa Woodward’s playing, suffice it to say this one time lawyer is penning beautiful songs sublimely set to comfortable banjo playing and graceful vocals." 
--STEREO SUBVERSION

"With banjo in hand and melodious pipes, Alexa transcends the framework of her songs and takes the listener into a world where only an experience storyteller can travel... a sophisticated songwriter who doesn’t sell her audience short. She gives listeners the opportunity to think while listening; to identify with her pain, loss, joy, suffering, and strength. You feel intimately aware of Alexa when the album is complete. A folk singer cannot ask for any more – an audience that is now one kindred spirit with the artist."
--CHICKS WITH GUNS

"Each of Alexa’s songs is structured and unfolds as if spirited by an old soul... Hers are the kind of cliché-less, sensible and immediately relatable words that sound as good advice or a great story spoken by a friend." -Dan D'Ippolito,
JEZEBEL MUSIC

"Woodward is a banjo-playing folk maven!" - 
RYAN'S SMASHING LIFE

"While some may compare Alexa’s vocals to the likes of Neko Case, Joanna Newsom, and Gillian Welch, upon my first listen I heard something more like Judy Garland... Capturing another time and place, Alexa creates a haunting environment. Beautifully well-written, Alexa’s new album, Speck, is well worth the attention it has been receiving." --
SEATTLE SHOW GAL

"Speck... conjures images of rural families crowding round a crackly old radio to tap their feet and hum along." 
--MAD MACKEREL 


FEATURE ARTICLES:

Knoxville Sentinal : Alexa Woodward found her muse with a banjo 

Wayne Bledsoe, October 2009

In today's world there's no telling where a song might turn up. Two of singer-songwriter Alexa Woodward's songs are perfect examples.

Fox recently contacted Woodward to tell her that a contestant in the top 20 on "So You Think You Can Dance" had danced to one of Woodward's songs called "Eleanor." Another song showed up in the trailer for the Australian TV show "The Wall."

"It could've been like a Viagra commerical or Wal-Mart. I'm glad it turned out to be used for something nice and artistic," says Woodward in a phone call from her home in Greenville, S.C.
A former law student, Woodward started playing guitar and writing songs while she was attending Gordon College in Wenham, Mass.

"It really wasn't until I found the banjo that I got serious about it," says Woodward. "I was home one Christmas and I found this banjo under the bed. I just started playing it and fell in love with it."
Woodward's father, documentary filmmaker Stan Woodward, bought the instrument on a whim, but never really learned how to play it.

"It's a Gibson from the early '60s, beautiful instrument," says Woodward. "I just started writing almost exclusively on it."

The results can be heard on Woodward's recent album, "Speck." Rather than going for bluegrass banjo rolls, she opted to play pretty melodies or strum simple rhythms.

Woodward says she put a lot of thought into whether her energies would be best used as a lawyer or a musician.

"I have to say that music has connected me to people in a way that very few other things have. Just as a human being I feel very grateful to take part in that. Being out on the road, all the times we broke down, we've had the opportunity to experience so much hospitality and generosity from strangers. It's an encouraging thing."

There have been times, though, that Woodward questioned a future in music, including a tour in which her 1984 VW van "broke down in seven states."

"There was a night in Colorado," says Woodward. "We had just been stranded in New Mexico for four days. We'd broken down in the desert. The ignition had caught on fire. That had all been fixed and was very expensive. And the day we left and got to Mesa Verde National Park where were going to camp for the night and just before we got to the top of the mountain the van died again. We're in a 'Danger! Falling Rock' zone and we're looking down into this vast horizon. There's no guardrail and the van's emergency brake didn't work so someone had to sit with their foot on the brake so it wouldn't roll away while we were working on it. Eventually, we're paying to have it towed from the side of this mountain in the middle of the night. I just felt kind of hopeless. And we'd just played a series of shows that hadn't paid that well ... that was, like, the worst."

But then there are good surprises.
"I've (performed) in random towns on the West Coast and had people come up and tell me they've listened to my songs for the last three or four years and they're glad I came out. It's very surreal. You never know how it works."

Hollywood Knocks on Greenville Songwriter's Door: Alexa Woodward plays Music in the Woods
Metromix Greenville 
by Matt Wake

Auburn-haired folk singer Alexa Woodward isn’t sure why people keep putting her music into films and TV. Her dandelion-delicate songs have appeared in Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” an upcoming feature called “The Fatboy Chronicles” and during closing credits for “Twilight in Forks,” a documentary on the “Twilight” movie series.
“I know a lot of people spend a lot of money submitting their music. And I’ve never done that,” says Woodward, 28, calling on an iPhone from the back porch of her Greenville home. Instead, she received e-mail inquiries from licensing companies in Los Angeles and England that had discovered her tunes online.  One of the most beautiful songs Woodward has written, “Eleanor,” was inspired by lachrymose circumstances. Five years ago, Woodward was working as a HIV case manager in Boston, and one of her clients became a casualty of self-destruction and domestic abuse. “Sometimes you have pivotal people who come into your life, and they challenge your whole world view,” Woodward says. “I just couldn’t ever figure it out. Why would she have the life she had? I remember playing this song for my co-workers and all of us crying. It was a really intense job, and sometimes I had to write just to keep my head on my shoulders.”

Alexa Woodward plays Music in the Woods at Paris Mountain State Park (with Jeff Prater) at 6 p.m. July 17. The show is free, but it'll cost you $2 per person to get into the park. For more information, visit dryridge.org or www.alexawoodward.com. 



Alexa Woodward: Speck
A Gentle Urban Folk Explosion
Album Review: Pajiba
[Constant Clip records]


I might be the least qualified among us to review this album, for no reason other than folk music is a genre that has, for the most part, completely escaped me. And at it’s heart, that’s what Alexa Woodward’s first album, Speck, is. But at the same time, it’s a bit more than that. It’s a quiet, contemplative record full of lovely harmonies, soothing melodies and some really killer banjo work. And as a hardcore bluegrass fan, I loves me some banjo.

The New York City-based Woodward’s voice, a dulcet, versatile tool, is almost hypnotic. Her notes carry a beautiful timbre throughout the album, and while the album’s overall sound isn’t always terribly varied, her voice is really what you come for. Backed by numerous Austin musicians on some tracks, the combination of banjo, guitars, and singing saw (played by Guy Forsyth), the instrumentation is a gentle accompaniment to Woodward’s voice. They provide a sense of subtle, delicate atmosphere that serves as a perfect backdrop.

The album is an odd duck — it’s got some themes that should resonate with urban dwellers, but with country/folk music roots and influence. Thematically, it has moments of surprising grittiness, which serves as an unusual (in a good way) contrast for her lullaby-like sound.

As for the songs themselves, they’re startlingly sharp given the sweet-sounding voice. “Jimmy” is nothing short of a tale of urban woe. With an opening salvo of lyrics like “Jimmy was a wayward man / Laying in a white linen bed / Broke his back in a rooftop fall / Doing so much blow / He couldn’t see at all,” it quickly establishes itself as a genuine heartbreaker of a song. Her sumptuous voice continues to twist through incongruous themes, as it continues with “I wish I had known him when / He was still too young for sin / I’d have taken all his kindling / Kept it dry for burning.”

My personal favorite is, unsurprisingly, “Boston” (Woodward’s a fan of one-word titles, which I have a strange respect for). Lyrically, it’s a beautiful, cryptic piece of poetry, but I mainly love it for the second iteration of the chorus, when her voice really has a chance to soar (“On the bus to Boston / with the scarlet turning leaves / I resolved to make my bed / with my better history”). The only catch with Woodward’s album is that despite her excellent songwriting and captivating voice, her songs are similar in style and sound. But then again, folk singers don’t kill you with their variety. They kill you with their lyrics, and their heart and soul. Woodward’s got that in spades

LONG BIO:

Born in Alabama to non-musical parents (a gardener and a documentary film maker), Woodward's first exposure to music as a child began with singing in churches across the south. She has no formal musical training, and didn't pick up the banjo until she was in college, when she found her old Gibson under a bed at her father's house. He had purchased it years before during a film shoot on a river boat in Tennessee, and allowed her to take it back up to Boston, where she had just begun composing songs on guitar. 
 
She and the banjo quickly became an inseparable pair, and for a time, Woodward was planted and watered in the Boston music scene, playing her first shows in Cambridge and Somerville.  However,  Woodward's social convictions led her to apply to law school, where she planned to study human rights, labor law,  and international law. She got into school in New York City, and made the move to the big apple. She set up shop in a community house in Manhattan where she and  24 others shared a large old Brownstone near union square, and she began, knees knocking, to sing around town. She ventured to the Sidewalk Cafe where the Monday night open mic bustled with eager young songwriters confidently equipped with the brazenness New York seems to demand of its artists.  The Sidewalk Cafe gave Woodward her first gig in New York, and from there she began playing around  city,  most frequently at Banjo Jim's, the American Folk Art Museum, Pete's Candy Store, and the Living Room. 

All of these musical experiences occurred in the course of legal studies.  After her first year of lathew school, Woodward headed south to the Kerrville Folk Festival in the Texas hill country to try to recover herself.  It was there under a blanket of stars, around an open fire, that Woodward met the people who would lead her into a life of full time music. It was there that Woodward met the artists who now comprise Constant Clip Records, and a bond was formed that has resulted in albums, tours, collaborations, and projects that continue to develop to this day. 

Filled and inspired, Woodward left Kerrville to spend the summer working on Capital Defense cases in North Carolina. She returned to New York that fall and attended law school for the next two years. During those years, she focused her energy on two diametrically opposed things: music and law, the muses that shall never meet. She received acclaim in Brooklyn's Williamsburg Live Songwriter Competition in 2009, where she was a semifinalist during her fifth semester of law school.  until May 2009, when she graduated with a Juris Doctor and a hunger for the road. 

In the spring of 2009, as she wrapped up her human rights clinic,  she released her first studio album through Constant Clip Records,  Speck

The release of Speck marked the birth of a new lifestyle. The day after graduating from law school, Woodward set out for her first tour, a three month long journey across the United States in an unreliable VW camper van with three friends and musical comrades. From New York to Texas, to Seattle, the bus chugged along, and Woodward began a life of full time music. 

Since releasing Speck in 2009, Woodward has toured almost non-stop. She has performed across the United States, in Denmark, Germany, France, and Switzerland. She was picked up by YNM management in 2009, and has performed on radio shows (including NPR, college radio, and AAA stations), for video blogs, at festivals (including SXSW, Old Songs Festival, and the Oregon Country Fair), and in venues ranging from large theaters to living rooms. 

Speck charted on over 200 college radio stations in the United States and Canada, and Woodward's songs have been featured on season six of Fox's, "So You Think You Can Dance" as well as on national television in Australia.  The title track of her album, "Speck," is on the soundtrack for The Fat Boy Chronicles, a feature film by Tin Roof Films. Her song "Secrets" is in the closing credits of the Twilight film series documentary film "Twilight in Forks." 

Stay tuned for upcoming tours and a new album to be released in January 2011!





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