Album Review: Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled – Donovan Woods

DW_USDeluxe-1030x1030JUNO Award-nominated singer/songwriter Donovan Woods will release a deluxe edition of his  fourth studio album, Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled on August 12th; the country/folk maestro has skillfully crafted a collection of ten original songs and three live-recorded bonus tracks for our listening pleasure.

There are hints of Southern charm in his Canadian voice as he conveys universal themes and creates music that has a magnetic pull from all emotional angles. His vocals are tender and expressive, while the instrumentation is perfectly-suited to the mood of each track. Driving acoustic guitar creates a sense of urgency in the rapid-fire deliberation of opener “What Kind Of Love Is That”–“What kind of love is stronger in the broken places/Fills up the lonely spaces/Picks you up when you fall down/Drives you home when you’re drunk downtown/When you fall off the edge of the world ’cause it’s gone flat/What kind of love is that?” Syncopated, crashing drums and smooth stretches of low-end strings provide a sense of journey as he sings “I could walk out on the water….you’re gonna learn to love another, it’s alright” in “The First Time”. A feeling of depth and hollow emptiness is created by spare piano, crying fiddle flourishes, and underlying echoes of noise throughout “They Don’t Make Anything In That Town”, while yearning pedal steel encourages internal reflection in “May 21, 2012”.

Like songwriting icons who’ve come before him, Woods’ ability to paint lyrical pictures is extraordinary. He makes feeling emotions unintimidating and accessible–there is hope in his sadness, there is optimism in his melancholy, and we’re all better for listening.

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Ted Darden

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