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Donovan Woods’ latest album is an acoustic interpretation of songs we already know, and yet it still reveals new shades of his acclaimed songwriting and spectral singing.
Released on May 3 on Woods’ Meant Well label, The Other Way mines fresh meaning from the songs first collected on Both Ways, the Canadian artist’s 2018 release that scored him his first Juno Award, for contemporary roots album. Often hailed as a songwriter’s songwriter, Woods had been nominated for a Juno a handful of times in previous years, including two nods for songwriter of the year.
The Other Way brims with luminous renditions that are stark yet startling in their urgency. It’s also the first taste of new music as Woods prepares to release new songs in the fall, including “Way Way Back,” a sensuous meditation on the long shadow that old lovers often cast and the way they creep back into our lives – or at least our memories.
Almost as a flip side to the unvarnished beauty of his latest album, it seems fitting that Woods ramps up again on “Way Way Back,” whose intimate observations are shot through with an electro-acoustic pulse. “My partner said something once about when people get back together with past romantic partners,” Woods says. “She said, ‘You always go as far as you’ve gone,’ and she meant that if you slept together back then, you’d sleep together again.”
“It can be hard to escape the comfort and nostalgia their memory offers, and that’s what ‘Way Way Back’ is about,” he adds. “The whole song, the production and arrangement, are indicative of this push and pull between the risky excitement of something new and the ease of something familiar.”
It's a reminder that Woods has never cloaked his lyrics in bells and whistles. Beginning with his 2009 debut, The Hold Up, he has become a sought-after songwriter whose work has been recorded by Tim McGraw (“Portland, Maine”), Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley (“Leaving Nashville”) and Billy Currington (“Sweet Love”), with over 109 million streams.
His secret? Fans don't just hear Woods' words – they connect with them as if his songs are telling the stories of their own lives.
Donovan Woods has long been one of Canada's best-kept singer/songwriter secrets. Now Magazine"
Donovan Woods has long been one of Canada's best-kept singer/songwriter secrets.