Donovan Woods was in on the joke when he named his latest release. Riffing on a lyric from a Martin Simpson song (“Never Any Good”), Big Hurt Boy is a six-song exploration of how our failures — and our fixations on them — not only shape but enlighten us.
Woods’ deep curiosity about the human condition is why we so clearly hear our own stories in his. The details differ, the characters change, but at their core, Donovan Woods songs are for and about everyone. That’s particularly apparent on his new EP, released March 18, 2022.
“These are smaller, less polished songs than the ones I’ve been putting out recently,” says Woods, winner of the 2019 Juno Award for contemporary roots album (for Both Ways) and whose global streams have surpassed 210 million. Still, Big Hurt Boy brims with some of the luminous production touches Woods has been adding to this repertoire lately.
Big Hurt Boy is the follow-up to 2020’s Without People, Woods’ celebrated album he made in isolation at the height of the pandemic. Whereas those songs were recorded in a makeshift studio at his Toronto home, with collaborators working remotely, his latest release harnesses the electricity of a roomful of musicians laying down tracks live in the studio, a first for Woods.
As respected as he is as a solo artist, Woods is evolving and upending our expectations of how his music sounds. His songs have grown more dimensional, emboldened by new sonic landscapes, reminding us that classic songwriting transcends genre.
Henry Jamison’s 2022 third LP The Years was produced by Doug Schadt (Maggie Rogers, Claud) plus long-standing collaborators Thomas Bartlett (Florence & The Machine, Sufjan Stevens) and Harris Paseltiner of Darlingside. Featured vocalist Maisie Peters and composer Nico Muhly (Adele, Bjork) round out the cast on what is Jamison’s most dynamic and diverse collection of songs to date.
Since his 2017 debut The Wilds, which was humbly produced with two friends at a sugarbush/apiary in his native Vermont, Jamison has branched out to become one of the most interesting collaborators of his generation. His 2019 follow up Gloria Duplex explored identity, class and masculinity over baroque textures and performances from Thomas Bartlett, Rob Moose (Phoebe Bridger, Bon Iver, Taylor Swift) and Shazhad Ismaily (Damien Rice, Nils Frahm, Marketa Irglová). In 2020 Jamison released Tourism, a five-song folk collection, featuring JOSEPH, Ed Droste, Fenne Lily, Darlingside and Lady Lamb.
Jamison’s uncanny ability to weave folk lyricism and instruments through a popular veneer has led to over 300M streams and widespread praise, especially from his peers. Adrianne Lenker describes, “Songs that sing me through mazes of my own sensuality and sadness and help me to feel less alone in the journey to understand myself.”