Donovan Woods paints themes of heartache and joy, connection and redemption in such vivid hues that, even if you don’t know the characters in his songs, we all see ourselves in his narratives. It’s a skill that’s earned him a huge following around the world and high-profile credits including Tim McGraw (‘Portland, Maine’), Charles Kelley of Lady A (‘Leaving Nashville’) and Billy Currington (‘Sweet Love’).
With over 265 million streams to date and 1.5 million monthly listeners, his acclaim resulted in a JUNO Award (Canada’s Grammy equivalent) for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year for his most recent album ‘Both Ways’.
Woods is now ready for an even wider international discovery, which begins with the release of his new single ‘Clean Slate’. Shimmering guitars and a subtle synth melody adds a widescreen indie-rock feel to his folk and country roots. The result offers a broader crossover appeal which also echoes the exemplary songwriting of Jason Isbell with the honest reflection of Lucero. It captures the early optimism of new-found love and the hope that, somehow, things will be different this time around.
“This is a love song about falling in love and how it makes you feel like you’re a new person,” says Woods. “But slowly you realise you’re still the same person with all the hang-ups you’ve always had, and it’s a drag. It feels like the narrator will hear this song five years from now and feel embarrassed. What I love about it is that it feels like a very pure expression by someone with the best intentions.”
Woods co-wrote ‘Clean Slate’ with Jeremy Spillman and Warner Nashville country artist Tucker Beathard, with production from Todd Clark (Noah Kahan, Dua Lipa).
‘Clean Slate’ heralds the start of a new approach from Woods. Throughout his upcoming releases, Woods will support black and indigenous business communities, struggling artists and independent record stores that have been affected by the pandemic. Woods explains in the full post on Instagram:
Soon I’ll be releasing new music, and I’ll promote it on my social media platforms, but I’m not interested in getting back to business as usual. This release will feel different, purposefully. So many artists are out of work, or in precarious situations. We’ll be diverting funds that would normally go to advertising and hiring independent creators. We’ll be using promo budgets to support Black-owned and indigenous-owned businesses, and partnering with independent record stores to make ordering vinyl easier and more meaningful. This new record is about the hopelessness of writing relationship songs when it feels like it’s the end of the world. Hopefully it’s just the end of the unjust world we’ve known. Reach out with any ideas you might have and I’ll see you soon”