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Over a year ago, when a hush fell over the house after his kids went to bed, Donovan Woods got to work on his celebrated album Without People, which he made in isolation at the height of the pandemic.
“So much of what I like about making records is the spontaneity of making music in a room together, and we missed that, but we tried our best to re-create that feeling” says Woods, winner of the 2019 Juno Award for contemporary roots album (for Both Ways) and whose global streams have surpassed 220 million.
Released on Woods’ Meant Well label, Without People was acclaimed as “a nuanced experience” (American Songwriter) and a thoughtful exploration of “fleeting interpersonal moments now under the microscope” (NPR/KUTX). So much of that album’s allure was rooted in how Woods connected with his collaborators and imparted the intimacy so many of us craved during a global health crisis. It was so successful, in fact, that it led to a deluxe edition of Without People in 2021.
His latest release, “I Hope You Change Your Mind,” co-written with David Hodges (Maren Morris, Carrie Underwood, Ed Sheeran) is such an understated tearjerker that you don’t even realize the relationship is over until the last line. “That song is about that back-end portion of a relationship when everyone knows the score but no one wants to say it,” Woods says. “It’s loving someone so much that you’re not sure how to be mad at them, so you twist yourself into knots.”
As an in-demand songwriter whose work has been recorded by the likes of Tim McGraw (“Portland, Maine”) and Lady A’s Charles Kelley (“Leaving Nashville”), Woods has been venturing beyond the singer-songwriter scene where he first cut his teeth. Equally at home in folk and country, he has worked with songwriters such as Tom Douglas, Lori McKenna, Brandy Clark, Ashley Monroe, Femke Weidema, and Ed Robertson (Barenaked Ladies).
Woods' featured vocals on Dabin & Nurko’s “When This Is Over” veered into anthemic dance pop, and yet Woods still sounded right at home. On “IOWA,” Woods found a kindred spirit in Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan for a pastoral meditation on dreaming of a place you know doesn’t exist.
Those collaborations highlighted a growing truth about Woods: As respected as he is as a solo artist, he continues to evolve and work with musicians across disparate genres. As he does so, his own songs have become more dimensional as he digs into new sonic textures.
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.