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Donovan Woods and Aoife O’Donovan’s ‘IOWA’ is an honest homage to the road

Following the release of his critically acclaimed 2020 album Without People, Donovan Woods shared a new single on May 7.

“IOWA” is a dreamy acoustic number with a subtle Celtic charm, thanks in part to the accompaniment of Grammy-Award-winning artist Aoife O’Donovan. The Irish-American singer co-wrote the tune, lending beautiful harmonies to Donovan’s whispery vocals, revealing chemistry beyond their similar names.

Donovan said the song is “about the duality of places; the natural beauty, and the people. It’s about dreaming of somewhere you know doesn’t exist.” The single certainly lends itself to the mystical, building toward Aoife’s echoing chants at the close, a rousing denouement before the sound fades like mist.

The lyrics offer a series of vignettes of America’s Midwest — the ripple of prairie grass, hummingbirds hovering around flowers — idyllic scenes contrasted by an overwhelming sense of otherness.

“When I asked about his army coat / he said he would not tell a foreigner,” the duo sings, describing a conversation with a Des Moines cab driver.

It’s an honest love letter to life on the road that does not shy away from the alienation of being a traveller.

“I wrote the first verse thinking about driving through new places on tour and dreaming about what my life would be like if I lived there. I pride myself on my blue-collar raising. I feel like I fit in anywhere,” Donovan said in a statement. “In America, I’m often swiftly reminded that I don’t.”

Still, one cannot but feel at home listening to the song — the lyrics are literally crocheted in the accompanying lyric video! Donovan attributes much of the single’s warmth to Aoife’s contributions.

“I sent the verse to Aoife and explained what I was trying to get at. She sent back a dreamy chorus that did all the things I love about her artistry. It was flowing and phrased in such a lovely way. We did a zoomer and finished the rest of it together.”

Upon hearing the first verse — alongside the stories Donovan had sent her — Aoife was on board, happy to paint a picture of the musician’s life prior to the pandemic.

“It reminded me so much of missing the open road, touring, and everything associated with that — everything, really,” she said in a statement. “I started to imagine those Great Plains the way I would see them on tour – covered with tall grass and wildlife. The rest of the song just fell into place.”

“IOWA” is available now for download.

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