Review Summary: Taking in the scenery
In the last few months, several songwriters have really opened my eyes to the greatness of country music. It’s one of those genres I was completely ignorant about before, often making assumptions about artists before even hearing them. Which is funny, since many of the country songwriters I've fallen in love with have a ton
in common with my favorite folk artists. Some of it is ass, but the same could be said of any genre. If you know where to look, it can be one of the most pleasant, expressive forms of music to grace your ears.
Maybe I’m just discovering it at the right time. This year has been incredibly kind to country songwriters, with notable albums like Kacey Musgrave’s Golden Hour
getting wide recognition. But seemingly every other week there’s another hidden gem in the Americana/country wheelhouse that seems to go unnoticed. One of the latest examples would be Elise Davis’ Cactus
, a bright country-pop album full of rich storytelling. If there’s one talent many of these artists share — much like folk music — it’s found in the vivid, intricate lyricism. If this was a book, the colorful writing would seemingly be flying off the pages. “Married Young” tackles the topic of young love, sugarcoating nothing as Davis’ towering vocals recall each personal, gritty detail. We all must start somewhere, and Davis takes lines like dirty white carpet/your sh*tty little apartment you paid $200 for
and provides contrast with others like making love in the back seat, babe/that's what made the world go 'round.
Romance isn’t perfect, and “Married Young” is a striking portrait of love at a young age. There are some tender strings and guitars, but Davis’ powerful voice and lyrics do some major heavy lifting here.
As poignant as Cactus
can be, it’s also quite playful at times. Davis sounds quite sarcastic on the title track, comparing herself to dandelions, fireflies and much more with a witty delivery. “Man” is similar with its wordplay, but gets more fierce when comparing a real man to one who just likes convenience and ***ing with no meaning.
Elise Davis’ vocals may not seem unique compared to some of her peers, but her expressive tone and delivery make the perfect fit for her brand of country-pop. Where Cactus
really shines, though, is in the vibrant and detailed storytelling she pours into each lyric. She writes these songs as if she’s in the room when these things are happening, and it shows. Whether questioning one’s status in life at age 33 or expressing her love for nature, Davis leaves no stone unturned – taking in the scenery around her and offering the listener a front-row seat. Not unlike Musgraves’ latest, Cactus
is a rich collection of pop tunes that come to life through personal expression. It’s just another reason to listen to country in 2018, but at this rate, it won’t be the last.