Month: August 2011

CD Review – Emily Davis 2011 CD “Undone”

Emily Davis is a local Adelaide singer / song-writer with a bluesy voice and a silken touch. This CD “Undone” was recorded with her band “The Open Road”, and throughout the release the songs maintain the consistency you might expect from a well tuned unit.

Essentially an acoustic album interspersed with judiciously placed electric guitar, this CD often evokes the ambience of a sly juke joint; a band tucked in the dirty corner of a smoky room, a shuffling snare, the ungainly stand up bass, and a pile of instruments called in to play as the need arises.

“The Broken Machine” launches the CD with its violin and squeeze-box driven eastern European waltz, a somewhat spare song. The title track “Undone” sets the mood with acoustic guitar, double bass, violin, mandolin and banjo. Appropriately this song is melancholia in a minor key, a sad tale of a relationship undone. A theme perhaps echoed later with “Pick me”, a slightly bitter song about an arrogant man.

“Conjure Woman Blues” introduces a soft vibrato guitar, some wind with trombone and clarinet, and a slower shuffle. This slow bluesy tune with its 1930’s jazz overlay takes us back to the corner of the whiskey soaked juke joint.

Listeners will quickly sense that this is very much a personal album, written from the heart, driven by deep emotion, loss, emptiness, and redemption through song. Lyrically the collection describes circumstances from the girl’s perspective, which is hardly surprising as they were written by Emily, but you feel that they are truly autobiographical tales (although the CD cover notes implicate yarns from Emily’s Grandmother’s may be contributing sources).

There are quite a few slow-paced songs on the CD: the uplifting acoustic ballad “Revolver”; “Arrow” featuring the dobro; “Bring forth the Queen of Mexico” which features Emily on ukele; “A Seafaring Song” with violin and acoustic guitar; and “Spartacus” with its battle-march snare.

These are appropriate vehicles for expressing strong emotions of loss, sadness, and a life that has seen (and will see again) better times.

Emily Davis and the Open Road should be pleased with this release. The songs are strong and have depth and significance. The performances are appealing in their simplicity, and Emily Davis has a lovely voice with some real personality. All in all, a great CD.