10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: March 2018

From the Hank Jr. honky-tonk of Dillon Carmichael to the ethereal Laurel Canyon folk-pop of Savannah Conley

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Donovan Woods
10
Danielle Holbert3/10

Donovan Woods

Sounds Like: Sincere, literate folk-rock that doesn't hold back on hooks

For Fans of: Iron & Wine, Sufjan Stevens, early Elliott Smith

Why You Should Pay Attention: "New" may be a bit misleading in Woods' case, as he's been releasing albums for more than a decade now. The Toronto-based performer has been nominated for Canada's Polaris Prize, along with seeing his streaming numbers outperform many major label acts and reaching Number One in his native Canada with the 2016 release "What Kind of Love Is That." He's also made some significant inroads in Nashville's songwriting community, landing standout cuts by Tim McGraw ("Portland, Maine"), Charles Kelley ("Leaving Nashville") and Charlie Worsham ("The Beginning of Things"), among others. His forthcoming album Both Ways synthesizes all those experiences, wedding his quietly moving, detail-rich narratives to expansive production and melodies that wouldn't sound out of place on FM radio.

He Says: "There's no story of any of the artists that I am in love with where they just get known for doing a thing and just keep doing that thing forever," Woods says, laughing. "They don't say, 'Well, he's reliably been releasing similar things for 30 years. We can always count on him to do that thing he does!' Growth is necessary and part of it and you have to challenge your limitations and move forward."

Hear for Yourself: "Truck Full of Money," which steers into full-on symphonic-rock territory with plaintive strings and a sustained electric guitar melody, takes a closer look at the traveling musician's life with its sundry thrills and hardships. J.F.

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