Canadian folk and country singer Donovan Woods has melted hearts with his re-release of ‘Whatever Keeps You Going’ with a new accompaniment – the purely angelic voices of the J.P Robarts Public School Music Project. This is just one sneak peek into what’s to come next week with the Deluxe release of his album Without People.
In lieu of touring and playing live shows, Woods is releasing four bonus tracks for our listening pleasure. “Among my favourite parts of playing live are presenting songs in a different context and introducing new material, and this deluxe version is doing that type of work.” This album, originally released at the end of 2020, feels like a life manual. It is about intimacy, loss and how we, as humans, sometimes have to face life’s pain head on to confront it. Woods has said how he wants his music to be useful and that it certainly is. His storytelling ability feels like a natural gift and blended with his smooth yet grandiose vocals, it feels like the quintessential heartache helping hand.
I think we’re starting to get glimpses of what it might be like. Some of it is wonderful. I think platforms like TikTok will continue to lead new music discovery. It’s such an effective medium for it. It feels serendipitous and fun, the way the radio does. I think we’ll move further and further toward a genre-less industry. Kids don’t see music formats the way I used to when I was a kid. They like what they like. I think fairness for all stakeholders in streaming revenues has to be a priority. The history of music is the fight for fair compensation for music creators and that will need to continue.
I’ve been lucky enough to get to work with many of the people I’ve dreamed about working with. Lori Mckenna comes to mind. Tim McGraw. Recently I’ve been dreaming of recording with Daniel Lanois. Probably a bit of a pipedream, but the other ones felt that way at the beginning too.
I’ve already out shot my dreams in this department. My big dream used to be just playing a venue where everyone was being quiet. Literally anywhere, as long as everyone was quiet. I played too many loud bar gigs in my 20s. I hope to headline Massey Hall in Toronto, I’ve played it as an opening act. Would love to play The Ryman in Nashville.
Back on the road playing music, hopefully. I think we’ll all have to build live music back up to what it once was, but we’ll do it because people love music. Can’t wait to get my band and crew back to work. Everyone’s ready, just waiting for it to be safe.
I want to still be entirely free to make the music and art that I want to make. Of course, you always hope to be doing better, growing your audience, playing bigger venues. But the real golden ticket is to be able to do all of that while still making art that moves you and makes you feel satisfied. There’s no better feeling in this line of work than making a new song that you love. Making something out of nothing, it’s the best feeling. The best there is.
Press play on Donovan Woods’ new track ‘Whatever Keeps You Going – Children’s Choir’.