Mick Davis can write a tune, lay down a guitar lick, oooooooh and ahhhhhh, pop his collar, and strut with the best of them. He calls everyone he meets baby, and reduces me, at least, to a giggling schoolgirl.
Davis’ stock and trade is in Rock and Roll. Between fronting hometown legends, The Novaks, his 50’s tribute act, The Skinny Jims, playing bass with Denis Parker, or as a solo artist, Davis has been toiling in rock and roll’s trenches nearing two decades, playing 150+ gigs last year alone.
He’s just released his fourth solo album, Endless Weekend, and much like the previous three, it’s an eclectic mix. Make no mistake though; Endless Weekend is rock and roll through and through.
Davis has always worn his influences on his sleeve. Springsteen, Tom Petty, John Lennon: the obvious suspects. Still, you know a Mick Davis song when you hear one. The first two tracks on Endless Weekend grab your attention for this reason. They’re credited to J. Wilson and C. Churchill, respectively, and Davis channels the extra layer of homage with finesse.
I’m unsure how the opening track, “Waiting for You” sounds performed by Wilson, but under Davis’ treatment, it’s one of the best songs Ric Ocasek never wrote. Ditto for track two. Davis’ vocals and piano playing on “Happiness” are early 1970s John Lennon coming through my speakers plain as day.
“I’m Still Alive” moves into classic Mick Davis territory, and don’t let the catchy Belinda Carlisle hooks or synth convince you otherwise. On the chorus, Davis plants his feet firmly on the ground and sings: “I found out early on the only way I could survive, I write the songs I’m still alive, I’m still alive.”
Maybe he’s referencing the hype surrounding The Novaks when they burst onto the early 2000s scene, maybe not. Either way, whatever The Novaks set out to conquer as brash 20-somethings, Davis is confident in the decisions he’s made. He’s a musician, and he’s going to play, because that’s what musicians do.
And play he does. The next track, “I’m So In Love With You” is a smoking standard blues progression with a cheekiness that makes me grin wide every time, and threaten to duck walk down my hallway.
“Lunger’s Lament” shifts gears into folkier terrain, with Fergus O’Byrne on banjo and backing vocals. It’s a stunning Celtic tinged song that shines lyrically. “C’mon give it to me!” serves Davis well, but the gift he demonstrates for narrative on this song is something special, and I want more… C’mon give it to me!
“Turn It All Around” is a soulful-little bit of dirt mixed with tears ballad: gritty, nostalgic, and uplifting in a Springsteen sort of way, and a standout track. The album winds down with sparse vocals and music box piano on “If You Were Mine,” and “P.S. My Glasses Are Just Fine”: a clear-eyed kiss off to an ex-lover, and a perfect ending to the album.
There you have it. If Newfoundland is an embarrassment of musical riches, rock and roll troubadour Mick Davis stands tall as one of the East Coast’s finest gems. If I have to fault Endless Weekend for anything, it’s only that I had to pry the latest Novaks disc from my stereo in its place.