Donovan Woods, The Hold Up

Acoustic guitar crimes abound these days, and Mr. Woods determinedly places himself amongst the guilty with The Hold Up. The nine songs on this album are intended as hushed, intimate confessionals, but they simply left me feeling cold. It’s as if this album were put together from a kit (“Okay, I think I’ve finally managed to get the roughhewn vocal delivery working properly. Oh, damn! Where’d that book on developing gothic country themes within an innate pop structure go to now? At least this beard seems to be staying put……”). It’s not that Mr. Woods lacks talent; he can strum and rasp and observe life as well as the next performer, I suppose. It’s that he sounds so much like the next performer. There are just too many singer-songwriters out there these days, and they’re all trading in the same tired emotional goods. Unfortunately, I have grown tired of listening to people spit out laundry lists of personal hurt. What happened to connecting with others through grander, older visions of heartbreak and tragedy? Perhaps I’m invoking Greil Marcus a bit too much here, but it might bode well for this generation of musicians to do a bit of scholarship now and then. And please give the venerable six-string fascist killer a rest; I’ve heard good things about the harpsichord…. (KB)

CD, Sunny Lane Records,