Updated: Nov 1, 2018
As I begin my blogging journey reviewing music and theatre in the Chippewa Valley, what better way to begin than with Davey J. and Friends 2015 album, 'Chippewa Love'. A beautiful tribute to more than just landmarks and wildlife in the valley, Davey J manages to capture living in the Chippewa Valley through his hour long CD of originals.
First stand out is the second song and my personal favorite, 'If My Heart' with subtle jazz chords that alude to deep roots of jazz in the valley. Light percussion and persuasive trumpet, by John LeBrun and Joel Pace, support the beautiful swooning of Anna Rybicki, one of two female vocalists on the album.
The title song is a convincing allusion to the Native American heritage of the valley. After 6 minutes of listening to this chorus with background vocals by Jennifer Hazen, the Indian calls really stick in the back of your mind; you'll find yourself singing them hours later. The references to Irvine Park, Lake Wissota and the falls downtown really make the Valley proud.
'Disinformation' reminds me of Lennon's 'Beautiful Boy' with influences of Nina Simone and her civil rights songs. It includes a nice chord progression and a passable guitar interlude. Along with 'Call the Jury Mob' and 'Dread Time', Davey's activism work comes to the forefront. I think Davey does a superb job combining his passions and often difficult subject matters in these songs with successful rhyme schemes that aren't too corny which make for successful songs.
I could not help tapping my foot along with 'I Don't Know'. A Jimmy Buffett fan myself, the harmonies in this song paired with the upbeat percusssion and walking bass make light of 'really just not knowing'. In similar style, 'Early Warning' brings out the alluring rockabilly vocals by Davey J. I love listening to songwriters that know their vocal abilities and compose for themselves accordingly; Davey is no exception, an accomplished bard.
'Northern Plains Lullaby' one of two instrumental pieces, finishes the album with a haunting cello by Laura Jensen and piano by Davey J. With a rhythm like a beating heart or gallop, this song is a meditative experience for anyone, not just folks from the Chippewa Valley.
The Chippewa Valley is only a fragment of a man who was able to encompass so much of himself into his album. Davey J has a lot to contribute beyond himself, after listening to this album 4 times I've come to realize that a person is a reflection of his or her friends. For that reason, I hope Davey J continues to write, and that he drags his friends along too; they're pretty great.