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Donovan Woods
Don't Get Too Grand
Aporia Records
www.bestsongwriterever.com


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.

-Embo Blake

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