Artist: Elise Davis
Album: The Token
Label: Make The Kill/Thirty Tigers
Release Date: 09/09/2016
“If I could make you love me,” Elise Davis asks in this CD’s opening line– and she quickly accomplishes this. The compelling title track opens the album and sets its tone. With a smoldering voice filled with world-weary yearning, Davis searches for some “token” to anchor her life of dashed dreams. Throughout The Token, she explores the struggles to find love and joy in life.
While the lovely piano ballad, “A Love I Can Rely On,” reveals her modest wish, the casual sex found in “Benefits” and “Motel Room” is more her reality. Things even turn darker in the Lucinda Williams-like “Right Way To Ask,” which details an abusive relationship. Davis offers a bit of hope in “Finally,” a Sheryl Crow-ish twang rocker that ranks as the disc’s most radio friendly track, but more often she winds up home alone or not at all, as she bluntly admits in “I Go To Bars And Get Drunk.”
Davis particularly excels in examining the messy complexities of relationships, whether it is figuring love out (“I Just Want Your Love,” “Penny”) or dealing with its aftermath (“Make The Kill,” “Diamond Days”). Some of her best writing is found on “I Like It,” which marvelously captures the unnerving experience of running into your ex at a party (“All the sudden my dress feels wrong and/I don’t know what to do with my hands”).
Special praise should also go to producer Sam Kassier (Josh Ritter, Lake Street Dive, Langhorne Slim) who inventively wraps Davis’ country soul sound with unexpected indie rock touches. 2016 started with Margo Price bursting onto the Americana scene and Elise Davis’ excellent debut ends the year on another high note.
– Michael Berick