On Grace & Dignity’s origins lie in winter 2020 when Woods lost his job in lockdown and moved back to his parents’ house. The only work he could get was as a laboureron a poorly run building site on the grimmest outskirts of Truro. “It was such a bleak winter – waist-deep in mud digging holes and rolling out turf on top of building waste, really grim stuff, which became the backdrop to the stories I was trying to write,” he adds, citing Raymond Carver, Lydia Davis and Richard Hugo as influences.
In among the personal reflections on loss of innocence and inferiority, Woods spins subtly interweaving narratives about survival, desperate acts of violence, loss and the limitations of community in the face of rapacious gentrification. Nevertheless, it is, appropriately for an album about home, somewhere you’ll want to spend a while. Life here proceeds at a graceful pace grounded by Woods’s deep voice, which seems to resonate from his feet as he delivers the sort of meticulously written lunar wisdom worthy of Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner, or the tidy yet revelatory koans of Silver Jews’ David Berman.
For the On Grace & Dignity artwork, he’s commissioned Bristol-based model-maker Edie Lawrence to construct an HO-scale fictional Cornish town. Christened Polgras, the 8ft by 4ft model features a viaduct, an estuary, a supermarket, new-build houses and industrial buildings; every song from On Grace & Dignity is represented by a scene in the town. “There’s different parts of the experience of growing up in Cornwall in there,” he says. “Some of it was from me looking at it when I was down there that winter, and some of it was me harking back to the experience of growing up there. It’s defined by that sense of duality, of coexisting realities,”he explains. “You’re geographically so far away, and it has a strong identity of its own, as well as a different landscape. It’s so rugged and bleak, but beautiful – which is what I really like in music.”