Album Review: Alan R. Davison – The White Eagle Lounge

By on Wednesday, 14th November 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Words by guest reviewer Carrie Clancy

Like The Beatles, Alan R. Davison gets by with a little help from his friends. His debut album, ‘The White Eagle Lounge’, features 36 players, according to Davison’s Web site. Some of the guest musicians are well-known names, including Rick McMurray from Ash and Nathan Connolly and Tom Simpson from Snow Patrol, but most of them are independent musicians from the Edinburgh area where Davison is based.

In comparison to more familiar Scottish acts, ‘The White Eagle Lounge’ is more Belle and Sebastian than Frightened Rabbit. Despite references to dark, cold Scottish winters, the music itself is generally bright and warm. Davison’s light singing voice and his casual, conversational singing style make an appealing combination. The instrumentation is interesting throughout the album, with gently ringing percussion, lilting string and brass arrangements, and unobtrusive backing vocals strategically used to enhance the songs without overwhelming them.

The choruses and driving rhythms in the songs are catchy, and the melodies are charming singalongs. Davison is adventurous with his vocal and instrumental arrangements, but somewhat less adventurous with his lyrics. His themes include love, regret and reflections on childhood. The lyrics are a bit trite, but they are saved from banality by a few fortunate and unique turns-of-phrase, particularly in ‘Phone Calls and Favourite Things’ and ‘I Bought a Car’.

Davison experiments with a touch of electronic sound on two tracks, ‘You Were Right’ and ‘There’s Something on the Surface’. In the case of ‘There’s Something on the Surface’, the album’s final track, Davison shows a struggling songwriter’s plea for understanding, with lyrics such as, “all I ever asked for/was the chance to sing/to play my heart out to you all/despite everything.” While the electronic rhythmic effects maintain the forward momentum of the song, the lyrics lack the conviction to get beyond their own surface.

In contrast, ‘You Were Right’ employs the subtle electro effects to greater emotional effect. Davison’s sweet, heartfelt vocals match up perfectly with the depth of the guitars and keyboards, and the shimmering electronic sounds add poignancy to the simple but highly melodic chorus: “you were right / about everything you told me / last night/ it seems so simple here and now / in the daylight.”

Indeed, the real beauty in ‘The White Eagle Lounge’ lies in the middle of the album, with a surprisingly diverse and enchanting series of songs, starting with ‘You Were Right’. ‘John the Burglar’ begins as a storytelling ballad, but has an almost stream-of-consciousness feel. Its gently rocking triple meter and virtuosic piano part are definite highlights. Among the purely pretty moments on the album are ‘We Tied The Knot’, a sunny, waltz-tempo allusion to traditional wedding song, and the more melancholy ‘When We Were Small’.

My lasting impression of ‘The White Eagle Lounge’ is its sense of sonic exploration through collaboration. Davison’s willingness to experiment with instrumentation and vocal arranging, to include employing a slew of guest musicians, doesn’t override his keen musicianship or the solo nature of his work.

7.5/10

Alan R. Davison’s debut album ‘The Eagle White Lounge’ is available now from EmuBands.

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2 Responses

6:42 pm
14th November 2012

RT @tgtf: New post: Album Review: Alan R. Davison – The White Eagle Lounge: http://t.co/2WeLVXeh

8:16 pm
14th November 2012

RT @tgtf: New post: Album Review: Alan R. Davison – The White Eagle Lounge: http://t.co/2WeLVXeh

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