Donovan Woods

June 14, 2024 8:00 PM

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Since he released his first album a decade ago, singer-songwriter Donovan Woods’ blend of folk, country and pop has resonated with audiences all over the world. In recent years, the acclaimed, award-winning singer-songwriter has seen his profile grow with his breakthrough album, Without People.

Touring behind (2020’s) Without People saw Woods play to his largest audiences to date. That included a stint opening for New Jersey-based retro rockers Gaslight Anthem on their recent reunion tour.

Throughout his distinguished career, Donovan Woods has built a devoted following who cling to the acclaimed songwriter’s every word. Never one to mince words, Woods is one of music’s most vulnerable storytellers and on his forthcoming studio album, Donovan takes that a step further. Honest and unflinching, on Things Were Never Good If They’re Not Good Now, his upcoming seventh studio album, Woods takes a long look inside and isn’t necessarily thrilled with what he sees. For an artist who isn’t afraid to bear his soul, this is as emotionally gritty as he has ever been.

Long known as a masterful storyteller, Woods is at his absolute best on Things Were Never Good If They’re Not Good Now. Across the album’s 12 sparse, intimate songs, Woods finds himself reflecting on the ups and downs he has been through since 2020. His writing allowed him to open up and address the complexities of life that he has been going through.

The album, he notes, serves as “a funeral to the life he was living.”

Sonically, Woods decided to take a different approach.

“We had our boundaries and made things sound beautiful within them,” he says. “And what’s left is scrappier than Without People, but I feel like moments of creation are much more accessible on this record.”

Many of the songs that comprise Things Were Never Good If They’re Not Good Now focus on the intricacies of friendships and relationships, and looking at the little moments in life.

Co-produced with longtime collaborator James Bunton over much of 2023, the album’s delicate nature is reflected in its lyrics.

The psychology of people’s actions always fascinated Woods and informs much of Things Were Never Good If They’re Not Good Now. Focusing on happy, party feelings doesn’t appeal to him.

Once he gets down these darker paths (“It was a warts and all album in a way that I never had done before”), which he admits can be uncomfortable, the songs flow and are universal.

In particular, on the heart-wrenching “Rosemary”. Co-written with Connor Seidel, “Rosemary”contemplates what happens in the aftermath of a heated argument.