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This is the first album from singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist John Davis in over 15 years, apparently. As a spring chicken of only 30 years myself, I suppose that gives me a good excuse to never have heard his music before, so if this review seems unresearched please forgive me.
I’m quite taken with this new album of his on Shrimper, anyway. He’s recruited a lot of friends and plays a lot of instruments himself, so the songs tend to be quite richly populated, but still hushed and understated, as they meander along with a dusky determination, the meandering structures of Roy Harper, the understated grandiosity of Lambchop, near-whispered vocals pushed high in the mix over shuddering strings and weeping slide guitar and a whole host of other instruments, only some of which I’ve heard of...double gongkogwe anyone? Ektara? Damroo?
Despite the wealth of instrumentation the arrangements never seem cluttered from the spacious Americana heartbreaker ‘Southwest’ to more imaginitive, highly percussive freak-folk shuffles like ‘Blood Feud’, with Waitsian voodoo polyrhythms and a mumbly paranoid half-spoken vocal line, which morphs into some Residents-like experimental weirdness full of weird chopped up and warped percussive sounds in its closing couple of minutes. It’s a more ambitious album than I’m really able to do justice to in the limited time we get to review things here, but undoubtedly worth investigating.
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