Wednesday 23 Jul

Manmade Objects - Monuments

No one wants to be forgotten; everyone wants some sort of legacy, a mark they leave behind as they exit this life for whatever lies beyond.

And for as long as there has been death, there have been monuments — whether austere or understated, abstract or concrete, prominent or tucked away in private — erected by the ones they loved to assure that remembrance, at least for a time.
07/15/2014 | Comments 0

Admirals - Amidst the Blue

Sometimes it helps to not be very good.

Some of the best albums and artists were born out of happy accidents owed to varying degrees of early suckage — the perfect note or chord for a song found by missing the one you are aiming for, failed mimicry of an idol bearing something entirely new and great instead.

07/09/2014 | Comments 0

Kierston White - Don't Write Love Songs

The Tequila Songbirds have become just as beloved as about any group around these parts. And how could they not?

Featuring a revolving cast of the Sooner State’s most badass female performers, it’s a power hour of some of the best songwriting coming out of central Oklahoma. Sure, they might not technically be family, but they are clearly a band of sisters all the same, bonded by the same brand of whiskey running through their veins.

07/01/2014 | Comments 0

Depth & Current - Dysrhythmia

"Overproduced" is a term thrown around all too indiscreetly nowadays, usually applied when the thing that sticks out about a song or album is how it sounds rather than how it is constructed. Yet some of the most compelling albums ever crafted embodied a certain aesthetic that was just as skillfully and meticulously put together as any Bob Dylan or Miles Davis record — which is to say production is as crucial to our enjoyment of music as much as anything else; it's also the most overlooked.
06/24/2014 | Comments 0

Weak Knees - “IceBevo”

Indie rock has been in a good place as of late. Not caring about being cool is the new cool, and a couple of dudes on guitar, bass and drums can make catchy, earworm songs without being armed to the gills with computer software and vintage synthesizers.
06/17/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Bart Davenport mixes melody,...

Bart Davenport mixes melody, melancholy into earnest retro pop

Lucas Ross October 16th, 2008

By most accounts, Bart Davenport is a lover, not a fighter. Unguarded and unabashed in his adoration for the soft-rock pleasures of Seventies-era AM radio, the earnest singer/songwriter is about as ag...


By most accounts, Bart Davenport is a lover, not a fighter. Unguarded and unabashed in his adoration for the soft-rock pleasures of Seventies-era AM radio, the earnest singer/songwriter is about as aggressive as John Oates' mustache.


However, after reading one newspaper's negative review of "Palaces," his recently released fourth solo album, the gentle troubadour is clearly on the defense.

"In an amazingly over-the-top and scathing review, this music critic assumed that everything I am doing is some sort of ironic joke " like the whole thing is a parody, like Flight of the Conchords or something," Davenport said. "People sometimes just don't get it. They can't imagine that someone would write these kinds of songs that are so sappy and sentimental, but also sincere.

"That writer might be too young to have heard Hall & Oates on the radio when they were still a new band. It's like if you grew up on a diet of Built to Spill, how on earth could you possibly relate to my music? I'm not trying to reach out to those people in their language. I have to reach out to them in mine, and if they can't make the translation, there's nothing I can do."

The 38-year-old Oakland, Calif. native's fan base and his first three solo releases " 2002's "Bart Davenport," 2003's "Game Preserve," and 2005's "Maroon Cocoon" " may have helped to establish his predilection for vinyl-era music, but in 2006, Davenport took a surprising and successful sojourn into soft electronica with his self-described "studio side project," Honeycut.

Despite the rising notoriety of the electro-funk trio, fueled in part by a song featured in an iMac commercial, Davenport was anxious to return to the familiar basic template of acoustic guitars and restrained instrumentation that has comprised the bulk of his sound as a solo artist.

"My solo work is me just doing what I naturally do," he said. "A band like Honeycut is just a collaboration where I'm experimenting. I don't really have to do much of a transition because this is just more natural for me anyway. For the past 10 years, I've been busy writing songs on acoustic guitar and performing them."

Initially, Davenport planned "Palaces" as a kind of collaborative effort with fellow musician Kelley Stoltz. However, Davenport found himself taking over production reigns after scheduling conflicts forced Stoltz to depart for a tour, leaving the album only partially completed.

"(Stoltz) gave me a boost to get started on the new album and he got me fired up to continue working on it once he was gone. Self-producing is a little scary, and I think an outside ear is really valuable to me. Logistically it was a nightmare, but in a lot of ways, the final album turned out sort of creatively perfect."

Perhaps as an agreeable result, the finished album draws from Davenport's diverse spectrum of musical tastes and blends it for a smooth mix-tape of Seventies-inspired country folk, Philadelphia soul, yacht rock and sunshine pop. Even the tracks are arranged in a manner that recalls an old LP, with a sunny "side one" first half and a somber "side two."

"I sort of intentionally front-loaded it that way, so people who don't want to delve too deep can get the fun stuff up front and then decide if they want to stick around and hear some more intimate and sadder things on the second half," he said.

Davenport remarkably avoids a cacophony of throwback tracks by charmingly evoking such feel-good artists as Bread ("A Young One") and The Carpenters ("Wombat's Room") in a manner that suggests true deference. He even throws a little bit of Honeycut-esque funk into "Jon Jon," a song that assures fans his flirtation with more modern sounds may not be completely over, and confidently asserts his ability to make frequent left turns more than just mere gimmicks.

"Occasionally, I've been accused of being a chameleon and I think that's the weirdest comment of all," he said. "I'm sure I would be 10 times more popular if I actually had some way of picking up some zeitgeist of what people want. I don't really work that way " I just do what I want, and there's variations between different moods and feelings, because I want to give people a colorful experience."

As for those who doubt Davenport's sincerity, he said his best response to that is on the album.

"For my music, the whole approach is to say something honest and hope that it's kind on people's ears and hope that its kind of beautiful, whether it's sad or happy," he said. "I like making things that are pretty, and like the lyrics from my song 'Palaces' says: 'Made only for you, pray not to bore you or make you feel sad.' There's no metaphor in those lyrics." "Lucas Ross

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5