Delaney Davidson and Barry Saunders: Word Gets Around (Rough Diamond/Southbound, digital outlets)

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All Fall Down
Delaney Davidson and Barry Saunders: Word Gets Around (Rough Diamond/Southbound, digital outlets)

After his idiosyncratic production work on his own albums and most recently for Harry Lyon on his excellent To the Sea, Delaney Davidson must be the go-to guy for singer-songwriters wanting to get some deeper grit, evocative noir and dirty r'n'b into their sound.

Barry Saunders (Warratah, solo artist) met Davidson years ago when on the Churches tour with Marlon Williams and Tami Neilson (both of whom Davidson has worked with).

This spontaneous-sounding collection of nine blues-rock, r'n'b and country-rock songs emerged with the duo playing everything (and Jol Mulholland on drums).

As Elsewhere has previously noted, Davidson has – in addition to other genres at his command – a real feel for focused Fifties and pre-Beatles pop and Out of Our Hands here marries that sensibility to Saunders' country-rock style with Americana.

The title track is a real garage-band stomper with Chess r'n'b blues fills on guitar, Make Your Own Luck comes from the electric bayou where the title resonates on a few different levels between the curse of original sin and the hope of self-determined redemption, and the closer Long Way Home is a typically reflective Saunders ballad where the road and travel is the metaphor of a life much lived.

The most compelling material here reaches back into the lost origins of mystery death-blues traditions (Special Rider Blues with its bone-rattle setting, the desperate All Fall Down which bridges the ghost of rockabilly Elvis, the Cramps and pessmistic Nick Cave) or puts Davidson menace front'n'centre (Make Your Own Luck with organ and a terrific chorus by the two voices).

Sometimes the thinner lyrical ideas require the support of the driving music (the very Warratahs-like Stolen River) and maybe there is one too many mid-tempo pieces here.

The voices of Davidson and Saunders are a very natural fit here and if the whole doesn't quite have the frisson of their most recent solo albums you can guess they will come up ragged but right on the night.

Speaking of which . . .


(all dates with a band unless otherwise noted)

The Word Gets Around album is released April 26 

May 3: Auckland's Wine Cellar

May 4: Auckland's Wine Cellar (as a duo)

May 5: Leigh Sawmill, matinee show

May 10: St Peter's Hall, Paekakariki

May 11: Wellington's Meow

May 17: Christchurch's Blue Smoke

May 18: The Cook, Dunedin 

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