Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shenandoah Davis on Offtempo Records

Got this latest single in from Offtempo Records continuing their neverending mission of documenting the american Northwest underground. This single is from Shenandoah Davis from the Seattle area, and from looking at a lot of her releases she seems to be a ridiculously classically trained musician, combining that skilled sensibility with pop music, or vice versa. On top of being book smart, she was born with a seriously unique vocal of those almost scary musicians that you watch from a distance.
So it's no surprise that she's destroying me with this A-Side cover track, "Are You Devo?", as much as I have a knee jerk reaction against these sort of dramatic sitcom soundtrack moments (piano and heavy vocal) during a breakup scene, she won me over almost as immediately with this voice. I dont know the original track from Shelby Sifers, but Shenandoah sold me on this being her own emotionally. When someone is just born with vocals like this, it almost isn't fair. She's evolved beyond the normal voice, if you scientifically can't create a sound with your throat within this range than you're out of luck. To combine that talent with a handpicked track she's already trying to do some kind of justice to the sentiment, is a deadly combination for an A-Side.
Not only are the lyrics for "Are You Devo" are included on an insert (which in hindsight need to be consumed sober) But a huge personal note about how both of these tracks came into her own experience. It starts to almost reach that Kimya Dawson tipping point but just teeters here on the cliff, she even gets away with the red riding hood references, what can't she do after this? Where do feelings come from, I thought I was a robot.

The B-Side, "This is the Life" by Paleo is another cover of an artist I've never heard of, this one is slightly more upbeat, but will break hearts in a different way, you don't end up in the same place as the A-Side, and that's probably for the best, if you aren't used to it. Being able to be this naked, with only a thin sounding upright piano against this fluttery massive ranged vocal, she can pretty much do anything. It would be a real shame to overdress it with too much of a band. It doesn't ever become cabaret or too open mic singer. A real argument for the thing no ne can put their finger on that anyone can see in five seconds. The only thing holding back complete praise of this, is that now I want to know what music she is going to make, or if we have another Chan Marshall, capable of delivering established material, but apparently out of originals....cause I didn't come here for karaoke versions of old standards.

This effort, all the way down to the heavy stock silkscreened sleeve with a draw of ink splatter that ended up on the reverse and the insanely tiny block lettered, love letter to the discovery of these songs and the artists that created them. Just based on her choices in this entire package I'd take this relationship further. It's perfectly executed, two covers she is in love with and rightfully so, she wants to share them in this tiny intimate way, devoting a lot of energy to their presentation and recording, and it really shows. You will feel lucky to have this on vinyl, 5$ is a steal for this ultrahandmade object.

Listen to this on her Bandcamp page or check out the video below:

Shenandoah Davis "Two Cover Songs" 7" (promo) from Off Tempo (records) on Vimeo.

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