Record of the month (June): Delaney Davidson “Swim Down Low”

Delaney_Davidson_Swim_Down_LowAlbum_Cover-290x290Roll up, roll up to Delaney Davidson’s old curiosity shop. Make way for big ugly fish, swampy rivers, bloodied stilettoes, fog, dogs, worms and old bones – it ain’t all pretty but it sure is fun. ‘Swim Down Low’ is Davidson’s 5th solo album and heralds the New Zealander’s return to Outside Inside Records. Having lived in Switzerland from 2002 to 2008, he is considered an adopted son of the Swiss folk/blues scene and is highly respected for his previous releases on labels like Voodoo Rhythm.

A magical collection of sepia-tinged vignettes

Captured on fabulous analogue during a week of down time, it’s a magical collection of sepia-tinged vignettes from the supernatural, macabre, dark-side-of-town. The lo-fi country rock genre is amply stretched to encompass flashes of vaudeville cabaret, blues and gothic folk-noir; as a result the album reads like a book of short stories by Edgar Allen Poe meets Tom Waits on a cocktail of whiskey, cigarettes and ketamine.

A slow work of seduction

It’s a work of slow seduction where the 10 perfectly crafted songs permeate their way into your psyche so that you begin to miss them when they’re not on. Take the Big Ugly Fish that ‘Swim Down Low’, one listen to the twangy, foot-stomping guitar riff and you’re hooked on wanting to know what horrors grandpa done did saw at the bottom of the sea.

Balancing the creepy with the beautiful

Let’s remember that Davidson is an old Dead Brothers pro, hence a flair for making the funereal grim and ghastly seem reluctantly joyful and frankly quite hilarious. Dead Brother, Pierre Omer, quotes him as being a “multi-talented musician who played everything from drums and trombone to the lap steel guitar, and even wore a dress on stage”. His poetic songwriting skills exel at balancing the creepy with the beautiful, aided by his penetrating, elastic vocals that can stretch, growl and whine to fit all the desperate nooks and crannies. Many lines are as quoteable as Oscar Wilde, especially the plaintive numbers like ‘It’s all Fun’ (“life is a dog and you are the bone”) and ‘Poor White Trash’ (“I’d rather be lucky than good”).

Thigh-slappingly good

Davidson creates a dramatic persona who enjoys letting the darkness in like a weather-beaten, weary, wandering minstrel. Yet despite the theatrical mask of fatigue and cynicism, it’s a work brimming with pretty melodies, harmonies and incisive wit. The banjoes, slide guitars, harmonicas and fiddles make sure that all toes are tapping in true Roy Orbison fashion not only on to the uptempo numbers such as ‘Farewell’ and ‘Dogs of Love’, but even on the suicidally slow numbers where an alluring rhythmic tension is always maintained. For maximum joy, listen on headphones to catch all the humouristic harmonies, backing vocals and theatrical sound effects. Thigh-slappingly good and un-turn-off-able once the fish bites.

Delaney Davidson,  “Swim Down Low” (Outside Inside Records)

Forthcoming live gigs with Pierre Omer guesting in the band:

15th July: Fribourg (Les Georges Festival)
8th August: St Gall (Graben Halle)
9th August: Vinelz (Bielersee Festival)
10th August: Zürich (El Lokal).

Delaney Davdison is also touring Italy, France and Germany this summer. List of gigs here!



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