Ben Davis, Jr. Suthernahia BenDavisJr.net
Sometime I need rock ‘n’ roll mixed with my roots.
I raised myself on The Blasters, Jason & the Scorchers, Steve Forbert, Los Lobos, Idyl Tea, and Carlene Carter. Eventually I found my way to the Long Ryders, The Bottle Rockets, Shelby Lynne, Alejandro Escovedo, and everyone else that No Depression wrote about through the mid-2000s, but—as we all know—the music started to lose the plot and roots got lost in the rock. Or was it pop? The Shins? What the—
I started down a harder bluegrass road purely out of self-preservation and a desire for plausible authenticity.
Once in a long while though, someone comes along and pulls me back to new music steeped in the traditions of Grateful Dead-The Byrds-Michael Nesmith & the First National Band-and John mother-blasting Stewart.
Meet Ben Davis, Jr., a fella that gets me. With his band The Revelry—more on them in a moment—Davis has crafted a collection of sing-a-long-able, memorable, and just plain high-quality songs that are going to stay with me for a long time.
From the lonesome intensity of “Porchlight” to the pride of “Line Boat Blues” (featuring David Childers, an influence of particular importance to Davis), Suthernahia is a masterpiece of singing, songwriting, and performance: I’m putting it with those folks mentioned up above without hesitation, and with full understanding that readers might think I’ve gone a bit crackers. Maybe I have.
The Revelry are Erik Miller (drums), Levi Westfall (bass), Ben Ervin (guitar) and album producer Eddie Ashworth who handles mandolin and keys. Go back far enough, as some of us do, and you’ll recognize Ashworth from the back cover of Bombs Away Dream Babies. On Black Crowe-ish rockers like “Sunday Morning” the band proves their mettle, but they are equally adept on gentler pieces like “Just Let Me In” and “Carly.”
Davis’ voice: big, powerful, and soul-full, that southern country swamp-style I fall for every single damn time. My new favourite singer, replacing Adam Holt reviewed this spring. Sorry, Adam. “I Think You Should” is a call-to-action, “(I’m Doing) Fine Girl” self-actualization from the road.
I have no idea where Suthernahia is on a map, but you can listen to it here. Prove me wrong: I dare ya!
Review based on supplied CD.
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