Billy Woodward’s newest track “Pearly Gates” is pensive Americana at its finest. Out May 20, the track details the struggles of mental health, comparison and the strength to find another way. “Driven by eleventh-hour introspection and that unnerving urge for change, ‘Pearly Gates’ is a sort of rally cry for the soul,” he explains.
He shares that this song was inspired by a difficult period of Woodward’s life wherein he worked an “unforgiving job” and found that as a result, his “desires and dreams” were withering away. “My feelings of discontent and the stripping of my artistic self were alarming and increasingly difficult to ignore,” he says.
Knowing that this moment lent itself to a “crossroads” in his life, Woodward took a risk and followed his intuition. “Either I continue the route of security in trade for the fire in my heart or I take the riskier path through the weeds and trenches in order to tend to my pilot light.”
With folky instrumentation and alt-country sensibilities, “Pearly Gates” is slow-building, allowing the lyrics to shine atop Woodward’s evocative vocals. Although the lyrics share the darkness of that time for Woodward, there is a silver lining as he ultimately chooses the salvation of his soul above all. In the last line of the song he sings, “I still try to hold onto the hope that one day I will return – fortified with strength I yearn to find.”
“That still reminds me of just how low down I felt and how much I was grasping for hope of a future, stronger version of myself,” he says. In this way, Woodward offers a candid portrayal of his own experience while musically walking listeners through how to “nurse” our own “internal fire” in order to find something better. “At its core ‘Pearly Gates’ is a song about being uncompromising when it comes to matters of the heart and soul – always keeping a steady hand on the lantern through the fog that inevitably rolls into life.”