Donovan Woods’ new album is a study in contrasts, as one would expect from its name: Both Ways.
That push-and-pull, especially in relationships, has long been Woods’ stock in trade. As the lead track of Both Ways, “Good Lover” unfolds with acoustic instruments and Woods’ quietly compelling delivery — not what a listener might expect from the title alone.
We caught up with Donovan to learn more about what drives his musical inspiration and what we can expect from this new album.
You have a soft, whimsical, and comforting voice. What would you say is signature about your music?
Whimsical, I like that. I think really it’s my voice at the centre of the sound. I’m lucky. In the way that some people are photogenic, I think my voice kind of records well, so it sounds like I’m singing something important. I think it’s my voice and the lyrics. There isn’t really anything poetic in there. It’s just very plain words.
How did you get your start as a singer/songwriter/musician?
My dad really likes folk singers. When I was a kid he was into Fred Eaglesmith and Valdy and this American duo called Trout Fishing in America (which is still an awesome name), and we saw Emmylou Harris at a folk festival and everyone absolutely LOVED her and I thought, oh, I’ll just do that, I can do that. It looked easy. So I started to write songs. I wrote thousands of songs and by the time I was 24 I had three that I thought were good, so I played some shows.
What has been a defining moment in your career?
There’s been a number of little things that felt good and felt defining and they’re still happening. When people started to shut up at my gigs, that was a big deal to me. Suddenly people were there to listen and I felt a big responsibility to actually say something of value.
Tell us about your upcoming LP ‘Both Ways’. What themes or messages does it convey?
Like all my albums, the only responsibility I put on this record is to tell the story of how I’ve been feeling for the last two years. It’s called Both Ways because that’s the way I’d like to have it, please. I’d always like to have everything both ways.
What would you like to achieve in 2018 and how can our readers support that goal?
I just want people to find my songs useful. There’s perfect songs for leaving work, or for driving home and I hope my songs can be useful and fill voids like that. And hopefully they can help people feel cool, or tough, or sad, or not-alone, or appreciated. So, if they find them useful, and I think they will, your readers can just listen to the songs. That’d be great, thanks.
To learn more about Donovan Woods, visit his website and be sure to listen to his new album “Both Ways” when it debuts on April 20.