|Benjamin Lazar Davis — Nothing Matters (May 4th, 2018)|
Benjamin Lazar Davis — Nothing Matters ■? Ben tráví většinu alba lízáním svých ran. Zaujaly mě opakované postupy, kdy harmonium udržuje tónickou primu, čímž vytváří harmonický základ písní. Pak už dominuje melodie, lehce připomínající rágy, Benův vypravěčský vokál, akustické kytary a prazvláštní tempa bicích. Po návratu z turné s Joan as Police Woman a Okkervil River měl Benjamin Lazar Davis po prázdninách vzácnou přestávku a dvě věci, které opravdu chtěl udělat hned: nahrát nové sólové album a trávit čas se svými rodiči, sestrami a bratrem Timem. Úspěšný kooperátor na devíti albech (je také členem Cuddle Magic) si ale zas nebyl tak jist, co bude, když se octne pouze sám se sebou a s časovou rezervou. Jak to udělat? Vybral si všechno, co okolnosti nabídly. Figurují zde také: Kimbra Johnson, Alex Toth z Rubblebucket a Bridget Kearney z Lake Street Dive. Hudba je spíše pomalejší, celkový zvuk spíše evokuje rozhrnutí závěsů po ránu a úžasná jednoduchost aranží vytváří pocit nového zrození. Piano instrumentálka s ptáky zpívajícími v pozadí umožňuje pocit vnitřní sebereflexe — téměř jako kdyby to bylo děláno pro malebné jízdy vlakem. Ve světě Acquitted (závěrečné písni) je všechno klidné, ve světě Nothing Matters má všechno smysl. I ten obraz, co namaloval jeho otec v době pobytu v Malawi, kde strávil 3 roky v Malawi jako ředitel školy, hraje roli. Krátkou dobu byl otec také ve spojení s Mamas & Papas. Obraz se stal jak ústředním motivem alba, tak i jeho názvem. Žádný hudebník na světě takto nevzdal poctu svému otci. Proto vzdávám poctu jemu samotnému. Benjamin Lazar Davis is a multi~instrumentalist, singer~songwriter, arranger, composer and producer.
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Styles: Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Singer~Songwriter, Indie Pop, Indie Rock
Album release: May 4th, 2018
Record Label: 11A Records
01. A LOVE SONG SEVEN WAYS 3:12
02. RIGHT DIRECTION 3:43
03. LIFE IS DANGEROUS 3:50
04. SOMEBODY’S SPEAKING FOR ME 2:57
05. IRENE 2:56
06. NOTHING MATTERS 3:08
07. BRASS TACKS 3:12
08. CHOOSING SIDES 3:51
09. LIES 4:27
10. ACQUITTED 3:41
℗ 2018 11A Records
■? Benjamin Lazar Davis (Okkervil River, Cuddle Magic) is sharing an advance stream of his debut solo album Nothing Matters, which is out this Friday and features collaborations with Kimbra, Alex Toth of Rubblebucket, and Bridget Kearney of Lake Street Dive. The record’s charming pop sounds have been winning over early fans at NPR, KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, and Consequence of Sound, among others, and Gold Flake Paint, who premiered the album stream, call it “something both textured and terrific; a varied pop record that takes on various faces but feels bound by something unseen; a lightness of touch like gossamer unseen.”
Groupie Rating 3/5
■? The multi~talented Benjamin Lazar Davis is best known for his work with indie superstars like Joan As Police Woman and Okkervil River and Nothing Matters marks his first solo venture. The story of the album is the stuff of bohemian wet dreams: recorded after a period of extensive touring and of course the obligatory breakup, Davis spent all his money on buying instruments and equipment, before returning to his parents’ home to record in his childhood bedroom. Nothing Matters is filled with the innocent wonder and adolescent pondering that come from returning to a place of serenity and security, and that’s part of the problem. The album often struggles with being too comfortable musically, when you want it to feel like you’ve been beaten up by the playground bullies.
■? A Love Song Seven Ways is a typically indie track filled with rose~tinted lyrics like ‘candy apple sun’. This ability to see beauty in the world, even in moments of heartbreak and adversity characterises the album and Davis’ abilities as a writer. The way he adds layers of contrast to his music to create meaning is part of what has made him so in demand as a producer. Tracks like Life Is Dangerous, and Lies epitomise this innocence in his music and but it all gets a little too dreamlike after a while. Vocally his high tenor exudes something of the man~child. The meaning behind Choosing Sides is admirable, but his pacificity becomes draining. His high, waif~like singing is as ethereal as his music and often comes across as tired; as if he’d like to pull the duvet over him until it all goes away. Even on gutsier tracks like Somebody’s Speaking For Me, you yearn for him to shake off his self~pity and grab the song by the short and curlies, but it never materialises.
■? It feels that for whatever reasons he spends most of the album licking his wounds and not enough time fighting back. ‘All my fires were gone’ he exhales at the end of the track, and it feels as if the spark has gone out of Davis for most of the album when it could benefit from a good stoking. ?■ https://www.photogroupie.com/
Words by Tom Johnson
■? Something of an unheralded champion of the backing~band up until now, Benjamin Lazar Davis, currently of Okkervil River and having also worked with Anais Mitchell, Kimbra, Sam Amidon, and many more, today leaps in to the limelight with his gorgeous debut solo album, a ten~track collection which we’re very excited to stream in full here, ahead of its release this~coming Friday via 11A Records.
■? Davis is a prominent multi~instrumentalist, and it’s said that to make this record he “spent all of his money” on instruments and recording gear, including drums and drum machines, both nylon and steel string acoustic guitars, an electric and an upright bass, a pump organ, a mellotron, a Moog, and an upright piano. Retreating to his childhood bedroom in Saratoga Springs, he recorded for a full month, and the result is something both textured and terrific; a varied pop record that takes on various faces but feels bound by something unseen; a lightness of touch like gossamer unseen.
■? While there are a number of shared writing credits — including the aforementioned Kimbra — Davis defines Nothing Matters as a “culmination of his life’s work”, piecing together inspiration taken from the myriad performers he’s collaborated with throughout his career. As such, the record is suitably wide~ranging, a multicoloured and multifarious journey through his many visions. There’s breezy pop music, showcased with dedicated glamour on a track like “Life Is Dangerous”, while it’s follow~up, the captivatingly ambiguous “Brass Tacks”, or the lilting title~track, highlights a more tender and unhurried side to his style, drifting in to the alt~folk territory of S.Carey et al.
■? An interesting and inspired collection, and one that beautifully carries with it the weight of experience that came before, Nothing Matters is a beautiful side~step, worthy of the work that has undoubtedly gone in to it, not just back in that old childhood room but in the years before it too. It gets a full release this Friday, but you can stream the whole thing below right now. ?■ https://www.goldflakepaint.co.uk/
Words by Chris Watkeys, Score: 5/10
?■ Brooklyn’s Benjamin Lazar Davis already has a somewhat impressive portfolio of bands and collaborations to his name, notable amongst them a co~writing credit on Joan As Police Woman’s latest album, and involvement with the venerable Okkeril River.
?■ This though is his first release as himself, and after a musical history like his, setting out one’s own artistic identity might be a daunting thing. Album opener ‘A Love Song Seven Ways’ is a lyrically clever, very delicate song; that delicacy most obviously carried in Davis’ vocals, poised on the cusp of falsetto and floating on a bed of eighties~tinged melody. Stylistically, this music is something like Elliot Smith meets a low~key Yeasayer — pure~sounding, chilled out, sometimes downbeat pop, with the occasional backdrop of a big sounding drum track.
?■ But songs like ‘Somebody’s Speaking For Me’ verge on the ponderous and there is very little real heft to the rest of ‘Nothing Matters’, which possesses a lightness that is sometimes beguiling but is more often just too faint to have any meaningful impact whatsoever. At times it flows very easily, and pleasantly, like a sunny, ephemeral daydream; but ultimately it lacks the strength to make you want to go back to it.
■ Nothing Matters (May 4th, 2018, 11A Records)
With Cuddle Magic:
■ Cuddle Magic (2008)
■ Picture (2010)
■ Info Nympho (2012, FYO Records)
■ Ashes/Axis (2017, Northern Spy Records)
With Cuddle Magic and Phyllis Chen:
■ Cuddle Magic & Phyllis Chen (2014)
With Bridget Kearney and Bbgun:
■ BAWA (2015, Signature Sounds)
With Joan As Police Woman:
■ Let It Be You (2016, Reveal Records)
With Okkervil River:
■ Away (2016, ATO Records)
■ In the Rainbow Rain (2018, ATO Records)
|Benjamin Lazar Davis — Nothing Matters (May 4th, 2018)|