By: Dennis Cook
A gentle, flowing vibe underscores the wonderful third full-length from Bay Area singer-songwriter-pop maestro Bart Davenport, an undiscovered jewel with a mid '70s heartbeat and an uncanny knack for spinning ditties that would have happily nuzzled Hall & Oates, Boz Scaggs and Seals & Crofts in their chart topping heyday. What Davenport does isn't exactly cool but, in musical terms, he's pure gold. Spin "A Young One" and you might think you've stumbled across some lost Holland-Dozier-Holland gem, a slow burner The Temptations or Stylistics might have turned into candlelight, jailbait wooing magic. And there's no drop-off in quality anywhere amongst this impressive dozen.
With a pure, radio friendly voice akin to 10CC's Graham Gouldman or Nick Lowe, Davenport excels at miniature worlds, places of bittersweet laughter, naïve kids and a sustained, lovely ache for living that stimulates our own. And it's not all drifting swoon, either. When Davenport plugs in on "Born To Suffer" he hits the ground hard, funkin' it up with shimmering tambourine, raw electric piano and no little guitar fuzz, while he sings with sexy deepness, "I wasn't born in a manger/ I'm just a child of nature." This is the one cut that echoes his work in Honeycut, where a portion of his talents shine but you really need to hear the man on his own to taste the full flava. His dedication to making every track count, filling in the spaces (or leaving them to breathe) has a grace and potency that make his albums prime candidates for personal favorites for serious record lovin' geeks. Turn up a heartbreaker like "Freeway Flowers" and you'll crack right along with Davenport's voice as he tells us how "he'll paint no more clouds in your sky." Elsewhere, "Wombat's Room" nicely evokes The Carpenters before closer "Lil' Bunny" lets you know that Badfinger's Pete Ham has a few true descendents.
If there were true airwave justice then Davenport's talent, skill and real charisma would flush out the James Blunts and Jack Johnsons lowering pop's collective bar, and his finely crafted music full of intelligence, soul and unabashed feeling would ring from transistor radios and car windows as our summer winds down. Since the industry is too dumb to recognize something this rich it's up to us to rectify the situation. Palaces (released September 9 on Antenna Farm) is another excellent entry in a career full of them, and further evidence of Davenport's status as a keeper in a field full of disposable heroes.
Here's the video for "A Young One."
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