Donovan Woods – Without People (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 40:58 minutes | 483 MB | Genre: Pop
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Meant Well
For his new album, Without People, Donovan Woods explains: “Anything but protest music feels out of place right now. In the middle of a pandemic, as the truth of our environmental devastation sinks in, in the thick of protests reshaping our thoughts on policing and crystallizing the reality of white supremacy at work in all corners of our society, it feels silly to write about relationships.
Late at night, as the world felt upside down in quarantine and when a hush fell over the house after his kids went to bed, Donovan Woods got to work on his latest album, Without People.
In a makeshift recording studio at his Toronto home, the acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter tracked his vocals and guitar alone and then emailed files to producer James Bunton. As Woods’ new songs took shape, backing musicians sketched out their own parts in isolation from their respective homes.
This is not how Woods, winner of the 2019 Juno Award for contemporary roots album (for Both Ways) with global streams surpassing 200 million, prefers to create music.
“So much of what I like about making records is the spontaneity of making music in a room together, and we missed that,” Woods says. “But we tried our best to re-create that feeling.”
They succeeded. For an album made so piecemeal, Without People (out November 6 on Woods’ Meant Well label) is alive with intimacy and connection at a surreal time when we’re all in desperate need of both. So much of its allure and power is rooted in how Woods connects with his collaborators.
You hear that in the snippets of warm chatter and lush strings of the opening title track. You feel it in the way the harmonies pile up in gossamer layers on “Seeing Other People” and in the tenderness of “She Waits for Me to Come Back Down,” Woods’ evocative duet with rising singer-songwriter Katie Pruitt.[MS1] On “Lonely People,” buzzed-about British singer Rhys Lewis delicately echoes Woods’ sentiments about wanting to be alone – until you’re suddenly lonely. As an in-demand songwriter whose work has been recorded by the likes of Tim McGraw (“Portland, Maine”) and Lady A’s Charles Kelley (“Leaving Nashville”), Woods enlisted a who’s who of fellow songwriters: Ashley Monroe, Dustin Christensen, Femke Weidema, and Ed Robertson (of Barenaked Ladies), among others.
Equally at home in folk and country music, Woods mines small moments to find greater truths. On his latest, he writes about the first blush of budding love and how it makes us feel brand new (“Clean Slate”); the fraught relationships men often have with their fathers (“Man Made Lake”); the sad reality that sometimes romances are snuffed out simply because they don’t burn bright enough (“Grew Apart”); and why we so often chase something we’re never going to get (“We Used To”).
01. Donovan Woods – Without People
02. Donovan Woods – Last Time I Saw You
03. Donovan Woods – Seeing Other People
04. Donovan Woods – We Used To
05. Donovan Woods – She Waits for Me to Come Back Down
06. Donovan Woods – Clean Slate
07. Donovan Woods – Man Made Lake
08. Donovan Woods – Interlude
09. Donovan Woods – Lonely People
10. Donovan Woods – Grew Apart
11. Donovan Woods – Whole Way Home
12. Donovan Woods – High Season
13. Donovan Woods – God Forbid
14. Donovan Woods – Whatever Keeps You Going