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Donovan Woods’ work is guided by a mantra that only sounds simple: Good songs win.

Woods was raised in the small city of Sarnia, Ontario, to the sounds of country music, with a healthy dose of folk and pop, a combination that instilled in him a strong belief in the power of a good melody, the importance of everyday language and the potential of a carefully-crafted song. While amassing a catalogue of rousing and acclaimed music of his own, he has worked with some of the top songwriters in North America to craft cuts for performers ranging from Tim McGraw and Alan Doyle to Billy Currington.

Woods’ fourth studio album, Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled, follows his JUNO Award-nominated Don’t Get Too Grand, and sees the songwriter in top form.

Whether big ideas or seemingly minor incidents, broken promises or the promise of romance, Woods’ stories affect listeners deeply. As he dissects the downward spiral of a small town (“They Don’t Make Anything in That Town”) you feel for the folks left behind, and a subtle string arrangement adds a delicate emotional layer that avoids overcomplicating or distracting from the song’s basic tone and language. The offbeat rhythm of “On the Nights You Stay Home” elicits the excitement of a hoped-for big-city quiet night in, while faced with the terrifying number of modern-day opportunities to be jealous. Rewriting history to confront a breakup (“We Never Met”) is a new twist on telling the story of a relationship – even if it might not be a reasonable coping strategy.

Throughout Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled, what is clear is that Donovan Woods possesses a voice made to tell stories – his stories, and ours – and one that can’t be ignored.


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