Butter & Bacon Records
14 songs – 63 minutes plus bonus video
Chicago-based singer Voo Davis is recognized for the wide tonal variety he produces on guitar, but he outdoes himself on Midnight Mist, the third disc in his solo catalog.
A native of Anniston, Ala., who relocated to the Windy City as a child, Davis blends the traditional sounds of the Delta and Deep South with smattering of West and South Side licks. He learned his chops at the feet of Blues Music Award winner Eddie King, longtime lead guitarist for Koko Taylor’s Blues Machine. But his technique doesn’t end there. He draws influences from roots music and jam bands, too.
This album, a follow up to the well-received Vicious Things, was recorded in analog instead of digital format and in one take with no computer wizardry tweeks at the Studio In The Country in Bogalusa, La., with Davis playing an assortment of vintage guitars as well as mandolin, pedal steel and keyboards. He’s joined here by Reggie Winterland (bass), Craig Borchers (drums), Michael Burkart (Hammond B-3 organ), Calvin Conway (fiddle and harmonica), and Carolyn Broussard and Dorian Rush (backing vocals).
While the instrumentation and sounds deliver a familiar feel, the music – all of which was penned by Davis — is rooted firmly in the modern. There’s not a single taste of material that would hint at being borrowed or being a cover.
“When I Get Back To You” kicks things off with a breezy guitar intro before Voo sings about waiting for his woman after a long time on the road. His voice is somewhat smoky with a delivery that some might compare to Joe Cocker as he promises to “get myself together” when the reunion finally occurs. His guitar playing alternates between single-note and chord progressions as he finishes the tune with a long solo.
Davis goes acoustic for the title-song ballad “Midnight Mist,” a reverie about driving south through Mississippi on Route 49 while thinking about friends and home and listening to Muddy Waters on the radio. “My Love” is a powerful blues-rocker that continues the trip, this time with Voo heading back to the woman he loves. A finger-picked intro introduces “Cajun Sun,” which speaks of staying up all night looking for knowledge he couldn’t acquire during the heat of the day.
Next up, the search for truth continues in the straight-ahead “Riverside Blues,” which is complemented by rich backing arrangements. Filmed in and around Clarksdale, Miss., a bonus video of this tune also appears on the disc. “Low Hangin’ Fruit” provides a backwoods feel with simple harmonica accompaniment as the search for truth continues. The lyrics suggest that you search early in life in order to achieve your goal.
“Howling Out Your Name” is an interesting love song in which the singer keeps returning to the woman again and again. But this time, he’s had enough … he won’t come back until she walks out the door. It’s full of rich imagery with “shame-seekers waggin’ their fingers/Infiltrating my doubt.” An intro that hints of American Indian drums and a steady rhythm pattern that would be a comfortable fit in any juke introduce “Find Me A Black Bone,” a cry out for a device that will mystically enable the singer to help him deal with a woman who’s totally out of control. It’s a reference to the black cat bone, a lucky charm in the African American tradition, that brings good fortune and provides protection from evil.
“Nothing Changed At All” is a welcome change of pace. It’s a slow tune with rich tonal qualities atop a syncopated rhythm pattern. It sings about the difficulties of everyday life. The funky “Music In The Streets” follows. It’s an uptempo bit of funk with just a hint of rap. “You Gotta Wait” is a pleasing blues shuffle that proclaims: “My reputation is shot/But my soul is true.” But the singer still won’t wait for the woman he loves because she’s wearing someone else’s ring. It’s simply her turn.
The slow-paced, tenderly delivered “Laughing Out Loud” provides a rundown of the mistakes in life the singer’s made, while “Void,” a simply stated song of lost love delivered with powerful musical texture. The disc ends with “You Wanna Know Why” in which Davis provides a stinging answer as to why a relationship fell apart.
Available through Amazon and iTunes as well as direct from the artist through www.louisianamusicfactory.com, Midnight Mist is perfect for folks who are looking for modern blues that aren’t trapped in the only one-four-five progression. Davis possesses traditional sensibilities in his craft, but delivers his music with one step in the future. He’s learned from his elders, but he’s making a statement that’s all his own.