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Monday, July 14, 2014

Roustabout Records artist: Davina and the Vagabonds - Sunshine - New Release Review

I just received the newest release (July 15, 2014), Sunshine, from Davina and the Vagabonds and it's actually quite good! Opening with title track, Sunshine, Davina lays all of the pop that I'd care to hear on an entire cd in one track. That's actually a good idea from my perspective. This really sugary sweet female vocal track could easily make a splash on any top 40's radio station. Now that we've got that out of the way, we get sown to some serious fun. Flow has a light poppy feel but with more sophistication and unique vocal styling by Davina, accompanying herself on piano and joined by Daniel Eikmeier on trumpet, Benjamin Link on trombone, Conner McCrae Hammergren on drums and Andrew Burns on bass. Fizzle Out delves even deeper into serious vocal styling and composition. There are traces of Fiona Apple and others in her work but she stands alone with her own sound. Primarily accompanying herself on piano, I like it! One of my favorite tracks on the release, Away From Me, shows maturity and patience. This is a beautifully composed and executed track that can stand with the best ballad compositions that I've heard in recent past. Excellent! I Try To Be Good has a Latin feel with stylistic vocal references to Amy Winehouse. Authentic Cuban style piano with by Davina is really cool and a really nice trombone solo by Link is really nice. Addition of tight percussion work by Hammergren and cool trumpet by Eikmeier also add a nice punch. R&B style track You Better Start Praying shows additional versatility by Davina with musical references to The Band (Ophelia). Red Shoes has a rag style but contemporary presentation and New Orleans flair. Nice New Orleans style piano by Davina, tight drums by by Hammergren and super horn work from Link and Eikmeier compliment the vocal precision of Davina. Throw It to The Wolves retains the New Orleans rag styling with the slick addition of Tony Balluff on clarinet. So far I have been raving about the nice instrumental work by Davina but she is an extremely strong vocalist as well. This track has a really cool uptempo jazz break with a Dixiland feel but it's back to spot and a tight ending. I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water has a strong swing feel and Davina again shows her strength on vocals even though she strongly carries a lot of the weight of the instrumentals on keys. This is a musician who could easily be the featured vocalist or the featured piano player for many contemporary blues bands. An extremely talented composer, vocalist and instrumentalist. On You Must Be Losing Your Mind, Davina takes a a nice jazz styled piano solo to open the track and Link and Eikmeier each take extended, well constructed horn solos, Burns a solid bass solo, and Hammergren a drum solo as well, giving this track serious instrumental merit. On Oh Heavenly Day, Davina is back with an emphasis on lead vocals. A quiet moody ballad this leads up to a bonus track, Under Lock and Key. This bonus track returns to the pop like styling but with grittier vocals earlier associated with Winehouse. I thoroughly enjoyed this release and plan to have it in my car for further review within a few weeks. This is a cool release and one that you should check out.

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