Jon Davis has achieved full lift-off with the launch of his sophomore release – Open Shore – a powerful, 11-track album underlining his distinctive skills as a gifted singer, an accomplished player and arranger and an extremely talented songwriter.
A classically-trained singer and jazz pianist, Davis first displayed his strengths with a painterly ability to translate human emotion into delicate aural canvasses of light blue steel and shale grey. A writer first, Jon poses many questions and, through introspective lyrics, invites the listener to dig for answers. Possessed of a delicate, almost chameleonic voice, you can hear distant similarities in style from James Taylor to Nick Drake, Coldplay’s Chris Martin to Lindsey Buckingham. Yet no one here reveals the degree of intimacy that Davis does in his lyrical approach.
Having endured a traumatic head injury in ’06, Davis found himself hurtling along a path towards healing – moving past personal hardships to arrive at a destination where obstacles become opportunities. As a result of this growth, Open Shore continues to reveal vibrant new shades of light and departures from the expected.
Davis is a rich talent in full bloom, colouring this disc with a full complement of smart, insightful language across hook-laden songs caressing jazz with an indie-seasoned rock edge, leavened with strong elements of fluff-free pop. This hybrid keeps his messages percolating in your head long after the songs are over.
Having surmounted many of his own obstacles, Davis unlocks those doors which often prevent us from finding fresh opportunities and endless possibility. You can hear this in the opening track – “Overcome”. Wrapped in a buoyant, James Taylor-esque joie de vivre, it firmly positions Davis as having cleared the shadows by moving into the light. Consider “The Prince’s Shadow” – a song whose lyrics combat despair as its aggressive hook reveals the singer front and centre.
On “The Streets Aren’t Paved”, the singer-songwriter takes an even more assertive lead singer role, illuminating a direction well worth the taking while driving home his highly expressive lyrical content even further.
Davis presents “After The Birds” as a heartfelt paean to balancing needs over our wants. His soft singing voice, reminiscent of the late Kenny Rankin, sets its sparse presentation into motion as a moody, sweeping soundscape before it spins out of control in the vein of “Aladdin Sane”.
Counter this with the timeless poetry of Thomas More in “If All Those Endearing Young Charms” as Davis’ gentle, acoustic guitar-driven approach rekindles Nick Drake – his solemn, weathered vocal hitting home his transformation of More’s words depicting the power of love over appearances.
Through Open Shore, Jon Davis challenges how we view our world and what we can do to make it better. It’s an uplifting wake-up call that’s as reassuring as the gentle, forever lapping of the waves, offering us the encouragement we need to get past personal trials by showing us how to – as he does in “The Scarecrow and the Sunflower” – touch the beauty.