Toronto-based artist, Donovan Woods has shared his new single, “Being Together”.
“Being Together”, his latest single, further defies expectations of what a Donovan Woods song sounds like. Initially acoustic, it unfurls with snatches of distorted instruments that are both dizzying and luminous. Co-written with Steve Robson (Carrie Underwood, Miley Cyrus, Maisie Peter) and produced by Robyn Dell’Unto (Lu Kala, Rose Cousins), the single arrives today complete with a video from German illustrator Philipp Frohnapfel.
“Time heals all wounds because it gives you perspective but it also helps you just forget some stuff, which can be nice,” says Woods. “‘Being Together’ is a song about that. Philipp’s striking line art compliments that notion beautifully. It appears and disappears so easily, its movement seems dependent on its transience. You can’t move on without losing some of what was.”
Late at night, 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 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.”
Out now on Wood’s own Meant Well label, Without People has been acclaimed as “a nuanced experience” (American Songwriter), a thoughtful exploration of “fleeting interpersonal moments now under the microscope” (NPR/KUTX) and “various aspects of human connection” (Rolling Stone), and for striking “a gentle, poignant note” (Billboard). It was so successful, in fact, that it led to a deluxe edition in 2021 and digital streams well beyond 20 million.
So much of the album’s allure is rooted in how Woods connects with his collaborators and imparts the intimacy so many of us crave. You hear 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. On “Lonely People,” buzzed-about British singer Rhys Lewis delicately echoes Woods’ sentiments about wanting to be alone – until you’re suddenly lonely.
“I dove in deeper on this album than I ever have,” Woods says, “and I can say that I tried my hardest to write truthfully about the people I’ve loved and the things I did wrong, and add my little verse to the story of what it feels like to be a person.”
Equally at home in folk and country music – as an in-demand songwriter for the likes of Tim McGraw (“Portland, Maine”) and Lady A’s Charles Kelley (“Leaving Nashville”) – and even Electronic Pop with his vocals featured in Dabin & Nurko’s “When This Is Over”, Donovan Woods continues to evolve and work with artists across disparate genres.
I grew up in Alberta, but spent most of my life in British Columbia – I also spent a lot of my summers in Britain as I was lucky enough to have immigrant parents with the capital to go visit our relatives. The amount of time I spent overseas makes it hard for me to say I feel fully Canadian, but it does make me feel typically Canadian as so many of us have mixed parentage. My parents defined another divide in me as I feel inexorably pulled to both science and the art; my father being a doctor and my mother being a school teacher. I studied both in university and now work on making healthcare software during the day, then write/read/draw/paint/dance in my evenings. My global wanderings, my education, and the fact that my appetite for media could be described as ‘voracious’ means my frame of reference is pretty varied. It’s hard to say that I have a favourite music genre, rather I am always seeking sounds that convey a sense earnestness an honesty.