Shenandoah Davis – The Company We Keep

 So, hands up who’s bored of me constantly banging on about ultra-lo-fi garage bands recently?  Yep, me too!  Honestly, I do listen to loads of other stuff, I promise – and having made that promise it seems like a good time to write about Shenandoah Davis’ new album, The Company We Keep.

I first wrote about Shenandoah back in early 2009, and her Toad Session was our landmark 100th podcast, and one of the best sessions we’ve ever done, so I am particularly pleased on a personal level to see this album released.

I don’t think of piano music as being ‘acoustic’ music, for some reason.  I know that’s wrong, but there’s something grand and impressive about the piano which seems to transcend the hopeless, downtrodden troubadour image of someone fumbling away at an acoustic guitar.  Having said that, the first Shenandoah Davis stuff I heard was very bare, in terms of arrangements, and this is a gorgeous, rich pop record.

Now, the idea of me loving an album which takes music from a minimal DIY aesthetic to something fuller, bigger and more involved may cause a few of you to splutter into your coffee, but that’s the case here.  This is a lush and beautiful record, with a few of the characteristics of nice female singer-songwriters and all the lazy mental shortcuts that tag brings with it, but lifted at every turn by Shenandoah’s depth of arrangement and sheer idiosyncratic character.

It has real personality, this album, and real knack for building dramatic crescendoes of piano and strings, before dropping it altogether and delivering a song of restrained loveliness.  Penultimate song, Duet, in particular builds to a thunderous pinnacle, before blowing itself out and collapsing into a gentle piano fadeout.

It’s such a lovely combination of the playful and the lovely, of the grandiose and the intimate, I liked this record from the first listen and it has only grown on me since.

Shenandoah Davis – Separate Houses
[audio:http://songbytoad.com/tunes/ShenandoahDavis-SeparateHouses.mp3]
Shenandoah Davis – Proof
[audio:http://songbytoad.com/tunes/ShenandoahDavis-Proof.mp3]

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