Craig Stickland - Leave Me to the Wild
Craig Stickland is a remarkably talented Canadian singer/songwriter. In January 2016, he released his debut album Leave Me to the Wild.
Tracks: 1. All My Life 2. Deja Vu 3. Liquor Store Blues 4. Keep Me In Your Mind 5. Break Every Rule (Live) 6. Be My Queen 7. I Hope We Don’t Break Up 8. Tears In The Rain
With his indie rock sound, Stickland’s album has 8 songs that are executed brilliantly. Not only do these songs cause you to get a little groove going (100% not optional. can’t be controlled, just accept it) but you will also learn the lyrics and sing along to every word. Over on his YouTube page, you can enjoy two music videos: one for ‘I Hope We Don’t Break Up’ and one for ‘Liquor Store Blues’, PLUS 6 live videos for his songs Always Come Back to You, Can’t Live Without You, Forever Man, Trouble, Break Every Rule (in Paris and Barcelona).
After recently wrapping up on a North American and European tour with singer Alessia Cara, Stickland is already working on demos of new music! Unfortunately, I was unable to catch Stickland at a live show; but from the videos he’s posted and from fan reactions to his performances on tour, it is clear that he can leave a crowd in awe with his seemingly effortless vocals and simplistically beautiful stage presence holding just his guitar.
Stickland has an incredible talent for songwriting, which shows in his thoughtful and deeply moving lyrics. A quality that I look for in person who I would consider to be “exceptionally talented” is someone who has the ability to write lyrics that have a message and a meaning…the ability to tell a story and pull those who listen into the emotions and create a connection. Craig Stickland has that and so much more. The combination of his voice and the music in his songs has an almost addictive quality where you just can’t seem to listen enough; which is why I’ve had Leave Me to the Wild on repeat since January, and at any given moment I have one of his songs stuck in my head. Besides everything that I have already mentioned about Stickland, there is something mysterious about him - in a good way! He’s the kind of artist where, you can’t exactly put your finger on it, but they’re very special.
‘All My Life’, the opening track on the album, gives the perception of a delicate yet potent love. The lyrics throughout this album are expressive of different love situations. ‘All My Life’ is a romantic and beautiful song with a stunning sound, but Stickland’s vocals are definitely the star. Maybe it’s because I know for a fact that he is just as good live, but he sounds flawless and pure. He is one of those singers that gives you chills. What I like about Craig Stickland’s Leave Me to the Wild is that every song has that authentic singer/songwriter quality.
I can confidently admit that ‘Deja Vu’ is probably my favorite song off of the entire album. When I first listened to Leave Me to the Wild in January after its release, in the midst of being completely impressed by Stickland after ‘All My Life’ (I always listen to songs in order when it’s my first play through), ‘Deja Vu’ came on and I was speechless. There is a thrilling moment where during the line “when you hold on to something but you let go too soon…” and there’s this really awesome intensity that builds until he says “this deja vu”. It happens again later in the song with “so when you hold on to nothing, you can’t let go too soon…”. It’s the music equivalent to going up the incline of a rollercoaster and having that anticipation for the drop; and when it finally happens you’re just ecstatic. It was perfectly done and it adds an immense amount of character to the song.
‘Liquor Store Blues’ contains these sort of edgy qualities that are noticeably different from the lighter elements featured in the other 7 songs. It’s about those times when you’re really down and you are obviously not thinking straight; an internal struggle and fight against yourself. One of my favorite lines is “caught between truths and lies”. It’s a good representation of going through something that you’ve gone through more than once and not having a clear perception. I was stoked that Stickland released a music video for this song - and one that captured how I felt about it. Watch it below:
This next song, ‘Keep Me In Your Mind’, was a great choice to follow ‘Liquor Store Blues’; but it in no means stands in its shadows. One of the first things I noticed about this song is that it has a little bit of a country vibe to it. There are guitar breakdowns and just a lot of cool things happening throughout. This song is about a relationship that isn’t working and you’re struggling to cope with the idea of saying goodbye and ending that chapter. Remembering the good times makes you feel hopeful that you’ll be able to beat the odds that are against you; but you also realize that things change. Listen to this song a few times and focus on the lyrics. It’s more meaningful and complex than you might notice if you try to understand it after only listening once.
‘Break Every Rule (Live)’ seems to be one of Stickland’s most popular songs..and with good reason! Stickland comes in very strong right at the first second, and honestly it’s pretty powerful. It’s similar to ‘All My Life’ in that the lyrics are very passionate and love-driven. But it’s about “doing all the things you wouldn’t normally do for someone when they come into your life” (credit: Stickland’s Twitter), and that’s a really sweet sentiment. It’s hard to change what you’re used to doing, but when it comes to someone special, it doesn’t feel like much of a sacrifice at all. You can watch the multiple live videos of ‘Break Every Rule’ HERE.
‘Be My Queen’ has a light, catchy, and upbeat sound that is very refreshing after some of the previous songs that dug a little deeper. I love the silly nature of the beginning where Stickland lists off things by saying, “I know I’ll never be a ____”. What’s really cool about this song is that even though he starts off by saying he won’t be any of these things that are seemingly “important” careers, he will someday build a castle and the girl will be his queen - um, talk about a fairytale romantic gesture! The lyrics talk about the idea of love at first sight, and instantly knowing you want to go above and beyond to make that person happy. If you follow Stickland on Twitter or snapchat (Craig_Stickland), then you’ll know he has a great personality and a funny sense of humor. Although this song is sweet, I also think the way he wrote it shows his character well. Always nice to have a song like this to show a side of an artist that isn’t necessarily “emotional”.
The next song, ‘I Hope We Don’t Break Up’, also has a music video. It really fits the song nicely and I enjoyed the whole in-the-ring concept where they’re fighting; but at the same time the lyrics are reminiscant of a good past and how you don’t want those memories to end. You can watch it below. In this song, the title of the album Leave Me to the Wild is featured within the lyrics. It’s clever when some artists don’t name the album after a specific song, but instead they use a line hidden within one; and it actually took me a while to notice that. In this song, I can feel Stickland’s emotions about all of the different parts of a relationship. They’re complicated, and can leave you broken even though you were happy during the span of it. Most of the time people aren’t willing to give up on something that meant everything to them, even if you’ve gone through the struggles that come with it multiple times.
‘Tears In The Rain’ sounds intimate; starting off with just Stickland’s voice and a piano and then gradually incorporating guitar and drums. The best way that I can describe this song is that everything about it makes you feel a swirl of emotions. The intro piano sparks intrigue with hints of sorrow and beauty, and then comes in the guitar which is a launch into the turning point. Misery almost begins to turn into animosity. The lyrics in ‘Tears In The Rain’ are strikingly powerful and they just touch you in a way that’s familiar yet unusual. I’m a big fan of rounding out an album with songs like this one. It’s the ideal ending that is certain to leave a mark on you.
Craig Stickland has the most impressive vocal range that I’ve heard in a long time. He is easily one of my favorite artists that I have found so far in 2016, and I’m comfortable with making a promise and guarantee that you will be hearing a lot more of him this year. As I mentioned above, he is currently making demos of new songs. So if you enjoyed his album Leave Me to the Wild, follow him at all the places below so you don’t miss out on his upcoming releases!
Alex Kilgore, Untold Music Promotion