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Donovan Woods - Don’t Get Too Grand (Aporia)

Donovan Woods Don't Get Too Grand
4 November 2013

Singer/songwriters are a penny a hundred these days, and it’s difficult to parse the marvelous from the mediocre. Donovan Woods is a good example of the former on his third LP Don’t Get Too Grand. The Toronto tunesmith’s forceful whisper – like a midpoint between Elliott Smith and Paul Simon – is his most immediately striking attribute, but a strong voice is only as good as the songs it sings. Fortunately, Woods has that covered – not only with his carefully considered lyrics but with (and, let’s face it, this is an element a lot of singer/songwriters miss) his instantly appealing melodies as well. The winsome pop sense of “Sask” and “Put On Cologne” buoys the emotional undertow lurking below the surface, while the moody folk of “My Boy” and “Taft” adds a bit of acid burn to the heart-on-sleeve feel. Woods sticks mostly to solo acoustic arrangements, adding bits of low-key percussion and warm guitar feedback when appropriate – cf. the expansive “You Don’t Say,” which also adds a bit of banjo to the mix. But the sparseness suits his aesthetic, letting Don’t Get Too Grand become an intimate conversation rather than a declarative statement.


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