It’s been no secret these past few months that the symbol for American reggae, Stick Figure, was coming out with a new album. Even though I covered a few of the singles myself, what I honestly wasn’t expecting was for this full feature-length masterpiece to absolutely blow me away. The 14-song album titled Wisdom — released on September 9th through his own imprint, Ruffwood Records — demonstrates expertly just that: all of the wisdom that Stick Figure (whose real name is Scott Woodruff) has picked up along the way over the last two decades or so of making music. It very well could be his best work out of all of those years. It for sure is some of the finest production work and debatably the deepest, most heartfelt and strongest songwriting to date.
The entire record is woven intricately with that unmistakable Stick Figure rhythm and peaceful patented sound.
You know exactly who you are listening to and the best part is, it never gets boring. There is a skill essential to this art and to keep a similar sound across 14 songs, yet have none of them lose your interest requires a mastering of that skill. The music on this record stays true to what its creator intended it to be and the album flys by, but in the best way imaginable. It’s over before you know it, leaving you with this empirical feeling of ‘there is no way I caught all of it… I have to listen to it again.’ And, then boom — you’re hooked.
I really can appreciate a 14-song album. To me, it shows that the artist really has something to say and with messages worth listening to. It’s a project that typically requires a little more work and dedication than, say, an EP does and usually that level of dedication shows. This next chapter of the musical evolution in the realm of Stick Figure displays, again, that level of ‘wisdom’ gained that is possibly leading to a peace Woodruff may not have known for some time.
The first three songs of Wisdom represent some of the tightest instrumentation and most skillful production I’ve probably ever heard from a Stick album. It’s no wonder two of the three were released as singles. They’re pretty damn good… each undeserving to be held back from the public any longer than necessary. “Old Sunrise”, “Paradise” and “Way of Life” featuring Kyle McDonald (of Slightly Stoopid) sink their massive hooks in you right off the jump and are able to keep you on the line for the entirety of the album — which is absolutely nothing to complain about. This album also led to a lifetime dream coming to fruition for Stick in the form of getting to work with Jamaican-born reggae legend Barrington Levy on the song “Soul of the World”. At the core of this impressive single is possibly the hardest hitting question that generations upon generations before us have pondered far longer than we can comprehend, a question sung with force by Levy — “Where do we go when we leave from here?” The only answer able to be given is sung next, “We will not know until we disappear.”
The album ends with a powerful pair of ballads that match the weight and presence of its first three tracks.
“Higher” (featuring the other half of Slightly Stoopid, Miles Doughty) and “Falling Stars” are mighty finales that drift you off into a state of bliss, combined with that frantic feeling of ‘it’s over already?!’ mentioned before. “Falling Stars” is simply a beautiful song and an excellent way to wrap up this magnum opus. Its melodic tone and exploratory setting has me craving the ability to stand on a beach and stare out into oblivion contemplating it all, wishing to one day reach a freedom only falling stars have known. It strives for release, a desire to be unattached in such an empowering way.
To quote NASA, “The human desire for exploration leads to discovery.” I think Stick Figure’s desire to explore familiar, as well as unfamiliar musical paths for this album has led to a discovery that, thankfully, we all get to take part in. We all get to traverse this new uncovering together and, fortunately for us, this revelation will only lead to new heights in novel territory. Stick Figure’s new full-length studio album Wisdom is available everywhere now.
Purchase or stream ‘Wisdom’ album:
- Old Sunrise
- Way of Life, feat. Slightly Stoopid
- Edge of the Ocean
- Stepping Stones
- Fall into the Sun
- Showdown, feat. Collie Buddz
- Soul of the World, feat. Barrington Levy
- Smoke Signals
- Here Comes the Sound
- Sound System
- Satisfaction Feeling
- Higher, feat. Slightly Stoopid
- Falling Stars
Stick Figure – ‘Wisdom’ (full album)
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.