Although he’s picked up country music awards there’s always been blues and Fifties outsider-pop in Davidson’s catalogue.
They come through on this stripped-back, direct and often enjoyably abrasive album.
The moody You Don’t Want Me Around and Five Bucks sneer like a menacing rock’n’roll delinquent, there are guitars strung with barbed wire (the snarky Eastbound) and stomping pop (Something’s Wrong, and the surprisingly Beatlesque Tell It To You, sort of Lennon in ’62 when the sweat of Hamburg was still in his pop-turning soul).
Although recorded at The Lab in Auckland, the raw spirit of Chess and Alligator blues is here evoked and channeled (the gritty and twanging cover of Dorsey Dixon’s country classic Wreck on the Highway) alongside some Bo Diddley-cum-glam (Black Bo) and much more, all strapped together by the taut trio and Davidson’s compellingly growling voice.
When he sings “don’t you worry ’bout the weather” on Eastbound you get the very clear sense that you definitely should.
Davidson is a rare character in New Zealand’s musical landscape — a lone figure in black walking the rain-swept hills in search of truth and a Devil with the same sense of humour — but this time out with that smattering of pop economy, brittle blues and a dozen short, sharp songs in a fraction over 35 minutes this, you’d hope, might be the album to take him to a much wider audience.
If he’s a lucky guy.
By Graham Reid, posted