Reviews:: Donovan Woods The Widowmaker

If asked I’d say that when it comes to releasing his new record, the road traveled for Donovan Woods was been long and tumultuous. When we talked about his last record - a record that had been released almost a year earlier - his followup EP was supposedly in the can and due for release. Well, flash forward to now, five months into 2010, and that EP is now a full LP and finally seeing the light of day, and not to go all Jordin Sparks on you, but The Widowmaker was Worth the Wait.


Woods has never felt the need to justify his style or influences. He was quite happy picking out heartfelt melodies on his acoustic and letting his words and gruff but surprisingly tender voice stand front and center. While that doesn’t change on his new record (honestly, the pain and heartache he offers up on the simple line, “now my roommate he bought a coffee press and that nearly drove me to tears, see it’s the first thing she’d touch in the mornings of those private school years ” on the beautiful, surging Phone is worth more to me than the most emotionally charged fiction), Woods has pushed forward with bigger arrangements.


Piano, banjo, moody synth tones, female backing vocals and guitar are used freely and effectively across the 12-songs, admittedly never pushing Woods out of the singer / songwriter realm, but certainly proving he refuses to settle for another collection of the same-sies. Tracks like the stripped down echo-filled Lord I’m Tryin’ and the harmonica and hand clap heavy Let Go Lightly are made all the more powerful by the inclusion of the fuzzy electric on Lawren Harris, the piano and banjo that drives the opener or the barely audible banjo and harmonies on Don’t Deny It.


But what makes Donovan’s songs work is his refusal to opt for clever wordplay over real emotion.  When he drifts into effortless falsetto or adds a casual curse, like the “fuck you too” that sets up the chorus on Won’t Come Back, it isn’t done for shock but simple an extension of who Donovan is and how he thinks. He’s as likely to sing about something as uncool as being a nice guy and harboring grudges for reasons he can’t remember as he is to open himself and his would to anyone willing to listen. I’m not trying to oversell the record - to quote the man himself, “he’s not a genius, I’m saying he’s damn good” - but there is something magical about a man and a guitar that doesn’t need tricks to make you keep listening. Donovan Woods has that magic.

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MP3:: Donovan Woods - Phone




This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 at 8:44 pm and is filed under 2010, Canada, Music, Reviews, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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5 Responses to “Reviews:: Donovan Woods The Widowmaker”

Smansmith May 5th, 2010 at 8:58 pm

This is one great album - If we have to wait a year or two for another, I will do so very happily.

I wonder if he needs a small indie label from Calgary? ;-)


Jon Hynes May 10th, 2010 at 8:45 am

yup! I’d do it (him) again

great record

Katie Munro September 23rd, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Amazing!! D woods is beyond fantastic and worth waiting for. I can’t believe more people don’t know of him :)

Herohill » Blog Archive » Reminder:: Donovan Woods The Widowmaker October 15th, 2010 at 7:37 am

[...] seems like a gentle reminder that Donovan Woods has a new record, out now on Bearsuit Publishing. When I reviewed the record, it was still a self-release, so seeing Woods get some The Widowmaker is a solid [...]

Herohill » Blog Archive » Exclusive:: New Donovan Woods! December 1st, 2011 at 8:42 am

[...] voice echo back. I get it; Donovan seems like a reserved, understated guy and his last record, The Widowmaker was delayed and the momentum he built up was engulfed by the blog world’s perpetual energy [...]

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