Polaris and Juno-nominated singer/songwriter Donovan Woods' new album is a study in contrasts, as one would expect from its name: Both Ways. That push-and-pull, especially in relationships, has long been Woods' stock in trade. Woods shows the rare ability to distill complicated situations and emotions into songs that are intriguing and relatable. Perhaps the collection's most beautiful song is "I Ain't Ever Loved No One," a duet with Rose Cousins. The song captures that moment of bringing someone home to meet the family, using it as a backdrop to the anxieties of falling in love. True to the album title, a listener could either imagine a happily-ever-after ending or hear it as an ode to the one that got away. In most cases, Woods prefers to leave lyrics open to interpretation.
As Both Ways progresses, radio-friendly songs like "I Live a Little Lie" and "Easy Street" employ a full-band sound to flesh out the sonic landscape. A number of the songs are guitar-driven, yet they stop short of full-blown rock ‘n' roll. The more aggressive moments on Both Ways are inspired by the band's camaraderie in the studio and on tour, as well as the pop and R&B music Woods heard growing up in Sarnia, Ontario, where he could pick up the radio stations out of Detroit. Both Ways concludes with "Next Year," one of five songs on the album he co-wrote in Nashville. The poignant narrative follows a boy through adolescence and adulthood, where hopes and dreams are in a race against time. While the lyrics are drawn from Woods' own life, the experiences are universal.