Adventures of a University Finalist

Friday, June 10, 2005

Cardinal Davies Sings the Best Yankee Hits


Richard Davies - Telegraph (Blue Rose, 1998)

Richard Davies - Cantina
Richard Davies - Papillon
Richard Davies - Main Street Electrical Parade
Richard Davies - Days to Remember

In honour of the wonderful people at Borrowed Tunes and their recent post on the brief collaborative project between Eric Matthews and Richard Davies, 'Cardinal', has led me to pull my finger out and post my one album by Richard Davies.
I actually purchased this album as a result of browsing Allmusic and discovering the link between Matthews, whose album It's Heavy in Here is a firm favourite of mine, and Davies. The fact that I only cost £1.99 sweetened the deal even more. For some reason, the album has been on low rotation since my purchasing it so I personally haven't been able to really get firm handle on it just yet. I do know that I definitely like it but am not yet sure if I can ever fall in love with it like I have done so with so many other records (I'm a record slut).
Davies's doesn't possess the honeyed vocals of Matthews nor does he attempt to hide his clear Australian twang resulting in a rather bizarre yet clearly likeable vocal style that sits uncertainly with the delightful acoustic based song structures that he can often pull out of his magic hat. For example, 'Main Street Electrical Parade' has an several acoustic picking patterns (can't quite put my finger on how many but there's definitely more than one) to drive the song which is augmented by unobtrusive slide electric and finally a bit of honky tonk piano. On the face of it, the song could have been played relatively simply on one acoustic but Davies adds to it with welcome light touches giving the arrangment that extra little something.
It is also a welcome sign that he doesn't feel the need to flesh out his songs with the simple fix of orchestral arrangements. I am ready to concede that the reliance upon strings can really turn
what would normally be a good song into a great song. However, I feel that, more often than not, orchestral arrangements are played far too heavy handed drowning the melody with noise leading into bloated monsters worthy of no-one's time. Davies pulls out a fugel horn on the album's two closing tracks, heard on 'Days to Remember', but thats as far as it goes.
'Cantina', released as a single, has to be my favourite track on the album with its propulsive drum beat (very in tone and rhythm to that of Wheat's 'World United Already' which I've previously posted) and spiralling yet controlled guitar lines. It's a real pop gem and when the vocals finally kick in you can't help but appreciate that you're listening to something worth a lot more than £1.99 + P&P. Actually, listening to 'Cantina' again as I write this, I think that this album and I have begun the start of a beautiful friendship.

Buy - Richard Davies - Telegraph