Canada has been responsible for some of the finest songwriters of
the last... well, of ever. There is something in the air, the wild
seasons, the hot and cold, that breathes life into poetic souls in
the wilds of the North. Donovan Woods is possibly the next
in the long line of Canadian songwriters that you love, whether you
know it yet or not. Hell, take a look at his website URL and visit
and decide for yourself if he's truthing you or not... but for me,
when a man starts a song with lyrics like No offense, Saskatchewan,
I've only been inside you once. Were those the golden days? I would
swear it was, I find an immediate kinship with the man's soul.
The songs on Don't Get Too Grand are beautiful and nigh on
epic at times, based around acoustic guitar strums but blowing up
into concertos of strings, piano, drums, and more. Woods' voice is
mostly soft and whispering, imbued with a little bit of Ray LaMontagne's
style of phrasing and filled with a delicate power that pushes the
lyrics ever deeper into the listener's ears; it would not be a stretch
to compare him to Paul Simon at times. The songs are catchy
without being pop, powerful without being loud, lush without being
noisesome, modern yet filled with classic attributes that belie their
newness. The easy lilting of The Coldest State makes the
song a pleasant listen, while the lyrics are dark and perfect, filled
with an aching that transcends modern pop music. Or, for starters,
check out the first single Put On Cologne. The melodies
in this song are pure, unadulterated beauty and the lyrics are charming
and disarming while digging to the core of a man's pain. As they used
to say up North, beauty.
There are eleven songs on Woods' latest and each one is truly a
gem. The production on the album is smooth and cool and carries
each song along on a beautiful parade of sound. This is not a record
for a fun Saturday night out with your mates, but rather a collection
of songs more suited for a reflective dark night, perhaps one that
hides below-freezing temperatures beyond the windows of the room.
These songs are filled with mood and demand a good, honest listening
to; not to be listened to as background music or casually overheard
in a market. Do yourself a favor... sit down with a nice glass of
wine and a warm blanket and lull yourself into the kind of music-induced
mood that makes life all the more worth living.
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