Donovan Woods & The Opposition
On his latest album, Both Ways, Donovan Woods’ proved himself to be “a top-notch songwriter…[whose songs] leave a lasting impression with their mix of insightful storytelling and highly emotional undercurrents” (Rolling Stone). The album earned additional praise from NPR, Billboard, The Fader, American Songwriter and more, and now Woods finds that bittersweet spot again on his first song of 2019: “Go to Her” wrestles with anxiety arising in the aftermath of a devastating relationship development. Originally recorded at the same time as Both Ways, but cut from the final tracklist, “Go To Her” is a fitting complement to an album that’s a study in contrasts, as one would expect from its name.
“I saw that phrase in the title of a book and I thought, ‘That means something to me and I don’t know what it is,’” Woods says. “That’s my whole guiding principle while writing. When a string of words resonates, I just dig in and try to figure it out. But what started the idea was people telling me, ‘You can’t have it both ways.’ Or, ‘You can’t have a record full of thoughtful lyrics that also gets played on the radio. You can’t have those things both ways.’ This is just me trying to have both.”
That push-and-pull, especially in relationships, has long been Woods’ stock in trade; this masterful perspective has led to a JUNO Award win (Contemporary Roots Album of the Year) and a Polaris Music Prize nomination, as well as his catalog has accrued nearly 87 million streams on Spotify alone.
Woods is also a notable songwriter in Nashville with credits by Billy Currington, Charles Kelley, Tim McGraw and Charlie Worsham. Asked if he writes differently for himself than he does for other artists, Woods replies, “I used to think that there was a difference. I know now there’s no difference. You just try to write the best thing. Everything I wrote where I said, ‘This is mine and I’m going to put it out’ – every song like that gets recorded by somebody else. “I know now that I should always just try to write a song that I like.”