Music Review – Donovan Woods

Musician: Donovan Woods
Album: Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled

Genres are perhaps the worst thing in the music world. Genres put music into a definable box; they make it easy for those who write about music to pinpoint exactly what they are listen-ing to. Is it a good thing to confine such a phenomenon as music to a ridgid definition of terms? Absolutely not! Some of the best music today is that which defies genre, music that flows out of the musician’s soul and into the hearts and minds of listeners, music that evokes a wide range of emotions. That is the type of music that Donovan Woods creates.

Released in February 2016, Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled is the fourth album from Sarnia, Ontario native Donovan Woods. As a follow-up to his Juno nominated album don’t Get To Grand (http://www.donovanwoods.net/about/), the songs on Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled are a spectacular example of the flexibility of music.

Considered folk or folk-rock, Donovan’s music is so much more. There are elements of country and roots, but then you can also hear the piano, cello, and violin in some songs. The best way that I can define Donovan’s music is by saying that it creates the exact feeling that I have while travelling on the road around Canada. There is something wholesome about his music, some-thing that stabs at the heart of what it means to be a Canadian and live in a small Canadian town.

“What Kind of Love is That?” is the opening track and my new favourite song. There is a warmth to the song that is difficult to describe. The music sounds extravagant, but it is a simple harmony between a choice few instruments masterfully picked to create an elaborate and complex sound. Donovan’s soft raspy vocals add to the simplicity and appeal of the song.

“They don’t Make Anything in That Town” is a sobering look at the rise and fall of a small town and illustrates one of the many stories in that town. This absolutely beautiful song opens with a piano solo that eventually is accompanied by the violin and Donovan’s stunning vocals. The mu-sic and message is heartbreaking and many listeners will find the song relatable.

“Do I Know Your Name?” has a bit more of a pop feel, but there is such a complex combination of other genres that influence this song it is difficult to pinpoint them all. This song is truly unique. The lyrics are a bit repetitive, yet I think that is the point. Maybe the song is meant to be a bit confusing; maybe the song is meant to evoke questions.

These three tracks are only a sample of the wonderful music on Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled. I recommend checking out the album for yourself. I also recommend that you listen to the album at least once with headphones and no distractions in order to detect all of the subtle sounds that make up Donovan’s wonderful music. Donovan’s songs are great for playing in the background while studying and reading, but you owe it to yourself to relax and allow the music to carry you away.

Samantha Stevens is an aspiring writer who loves combining her love for literature with photography, painting, music, and all creative pursuits.

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