Coming Up: Donovan Woods
Singer and songwriter Donovan Woods’ career stretches over a decade now, with several accolades in his native Canada including nominations for the Polaris Prize and the Juno Awards and the no. 1 CBC Top 20 single “What Kind of Love Is That?” Woods is also know as a notable songwriter in his adopted hometown of Nashville, with credits by Billy Currington, Charles Kelley, Tim McGraw and Charlie Worsham.
Donovan Woods’ forthcoming album Both Ways (out April 20) is a well-crafted collection of short stories where personal observations and detailed storytelling is being brought to life by radio-ready acoustic accompaniments, and Woods’ characteristic raspy voice. We invited Donovan Woods for a chat about his new album.
Hi Mr. Woods! Congratulations with a new album. What do we get and what’s it about?
You get 12 songs, and it’s about how we all want everything both ways, and we seem to be able to have that these days, so we may have to adjust that old saying.
What was your initial idea for Both Ways and what inspired you the most?
I’m always just trying to tell the story of what’s gone on in my life over the two years since the last record. Sometimes the songs are about me and sometimes they’re about other people and sometimes they’re just made up stories that I’m trying to learn something from.
Did you have a clear idea for this album when you first started writing songs for it?
The ideas for the album coalesce throughout the writing and recording process. Usually it quite suddenly snaps into focus and feels like an album if you just keep working, revising and imagining. I have a band now, full of people I like very much, so I wanted to make sure they all got to play on it and make a record we can tour around and represent really well in the show.
What can you share about the recording process and working with this material in the studio?
It’s the first time in my career that I’ve had a budget that allows everybody to record during the day in the studio with lunch and everything, so it was very fun. All of my guitars and vocals were recorded before we got into the studio, (except for two songs that were live off the floor), so I just got to sit back and enjoy the band’s performances. One song “Our Friend Bobby” showed up at the last minute and slid in. It was written the night before we recorded it.
What would be your preferred setting to ultimately enjoy the LP?
For all my other records I’d say walking in fall weather. But for Both Ways, I think I’d be lying if I didn’t say driving in a car is the best way to hear it.
Which albums, songs and/or books inspired you the most in the making of this album and why?
Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints, Richard Ford’s Canada and Karl Ove Knausgaard’s books because of their attention to the small details of everyday life.
You’re also an acknowledged songwriter for other artists. How do you approach writing for others compared writing songs for yourself?
I used to think of it as two different jobs, but I know now that it’s not. I try to always write a song that I would want to sing and put on one of my albums. Great songs are great, they transcend genre entirely. If you do your job in the writing process, you won’t care who ends up singing it, you’ll just be happy it exists.
How would you pair Both Ways with a meal or beverage?
An ice cold Sprite. Obey Your Thirst.
Any new artists out there you don’t feel are getting deserved attention and that you’d like to recommend?
I love a Canadian singer/songwriter named Leif Vollebekk. He had a record last year called Twin Solitude and it’s fantastic. I also like The Barr Brothers very, very much.
And finally, if your music was a physical object what would it be? Please describe.
I would like to think of it as a bed. A cozy bed in a cold room and you don’t have to leave it and your phone is dead but your charger is downstairs, so you just lay there.
‘Both Ways’ drops on April 20.
Photo: Danielle Holbert/press
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