I need more time. I need a 48-hour day and an eighteen day week. Musically, I miss too much or, in this case, take too long to get to what I should be hearing. I know it every time I come across an artist like Donovan Woods who deserves mass attention but who struggles just to be heard. I know. Everyone has their favorites, but this guy should be everyone’s favorite right now because he sounds like Donovan Woods and not like everyone else and writes to beat the devil, one song after another, and I sit here banging my head against the desk thinking of all the lesser talents— and I’m talking way lesser— reaping benefits Woods should at this very moment be reaping.
Oh, Woods is not unknown. I suppose in Canada, from whence he comes, he is more than a passing note. But he at this moment is not getting the attention the music warrants. I know because before I started listening to the album I already knew him without realizing it. A couple of months ago, I was linked to this video and reposted it in a column I write for the Don’t Believe a Word I Say website out of Toronto.
That song popped up as I was listening to Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled and my first reaction was, wait a minute, I’ve heard that before, but I have that reaction all the time anymore, it seems. Hazards of listening to music all the time. But when the album ended it bugged me enough so that I made my way to YouTube and searched and sonofagun if the song wasn’t there, waiting to be reposted again. These days, dying towns are like dying people and I struggle with both of them, wanting to move forward but hating leaving the past. And maybe that’s what I love about this guy. He looks back without looking back by really recognizing what was there. It’s like driving past that old stone chimney in the middle of a field in Colorado, the remnants of a once newly built home, and wondering who lived there and what it was like and where they went. And it reinforces my belief that just because it is the past does not mean it is not important, especially to the people who lived there.
Woods takes things down to the basics in his songs and that may well be why we have connected so well. “What Kind of Love Is That?” is upbeat and choogling yet deep emotionally (the use of strings helps it along nicely), thanks to top-of-the-line lyrics. Top-of-the-line. Woods knows how to write. Oh, how he knows.
In a world of writers, in fact, he is top-percentile. Every musician has a style and Woods has his and it is as fresh and captivating as any out there. On Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled, in fact, it is a two-by-four to the forehead— or should it be a punch to the heart. Ten striking songs to stop the heart or to set it beating, depending on what you need. Songs for the occasion, so to speak, because each song is adaptable to situation and mood.
Once again, though, words do not do the music justice. Woods has a plethora of videos on YouTube to sort through, which is where I am going next. I will leave you with this, a small example of the talent who is Donovan Woods. Is he big in Canada, at least? Please tell me he is. I cannot stand music this good being buried.