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Donovan Woods

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.

“Have you ever had a fight by text message? And it’s long, and existential,” he says. “Someone
did something wrong and maybe that’s it.” Continuing, he explains that “Rosemary” is about
“finally admitting all your faults, showing your actual self and asking, can you still love me? And
really wanting an answer either way.”
Not everything is doom and gloom.
On “When Our Friends Come Over,” Woods sings lovingly about a couple who rediscover their
affection for one another. Featuring Madi Diaz on vocals, the song highlights how two partners
are able to appreciate each other in the presence of others. Even though they're going through
a rocky patch, Woods shows how even the tiniest of gestures are the true signs of love.
Throughout an album of heart wrenching songs, none hit harder than “Back for the Funeral.”
Taking place in a small town, a group of friends who haven’t seen each other in years return to
memorialize a schoolmate after they overdosed on pills.
“There's so much writing done about being back in your hometown and what it does to you,”
Woods explains. “But there’s the idea that you only go there with bad news—which can be
true—and what it does to your feelings about your hometown.”
However, the song poignantly shows that even though someone may return to their hometown
for unfortunate reasons, reconnecting with old friends is a positive byproduct of the
As Woods continues to work on himself, Things Were Never Good If They’re Not Good Now is
the portrait of a songwriter at his creative best. Addressing the truths and pains of life is never
easy, and here, he does so in a way that’s brutally honest. After all, that’s what great
songwriters do.

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The Basement East
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