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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Davina and the Vagabonds

Sugar Drops

Review by Gary Hill

This is an interesting release. It has a lot in common with a lot of modern female songstresses. However, there are big helpings of retro sound all over it, too. In fact, some of this is really vintage jazz. The vocals are potent throughout and at times call to mind Janis Joplin. All in all, this is quite an effective album.

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Track by Track Review
Bone Collection
An old school jazz jam brings this into being. The vocals come over it, delivering a particularly retro styled performance. This has a nice shuffling groove and some cool changes along the road.
I Can't Believe I Let You Go
There is a lot of soul in the mix here. This still has plenty of jazz, but it's more modern in nature. There is some funk built into the piece, too.
Devil Horns
Largely percussive, this has a lot of retro texture, but is also located in modern zones. The horns later, though, bring more of a pure old-time jazz vibe. They really take it into the old-time territory with the instrumental interlude.
Little Miss Moonshine
While still showing off a lot of the retro textures, this is well set in a modern pop sort of vein. The horns bring some magic, but so does the piano.
Sugar Drops
Based around a piano and vocal arrangement, this is a balladic kind of piece as it begins. The arrangement fills out a bit after the first verse, feeling like a more modern take on an old-school bluesy jazz arrangement.
Another Lonely Day

One of the more modern sounding pieces of the set, this is another classy number I dig the vintage organ sound on it.

No Matter Where We Are
More retro based, this is another fun little song. It has a shuffling vibe to it and some old school jazz textures. The slide guitar brings some hints of country, and the full on old-time jazz jamming later really brings something cool.
Mr. Big Talker
With a string laden arrangement, this feels like a country ballad as it starts. The vocals are more suited for modern pop music. The arrangement has more of a classical meets jazz vibe as the vocals are added to the mix, too.
Magic Kisses
Energetic, bouncy and fun, the retro and modern elements merge nicely. It's an entertaining song.
Deep End
This ballad has some particularly strong piano melodies. The vocals are more contemporary than a lot of the music on this disc. This is a nice bit of variety and one of the highlights.
Holy Cow
Old school jazz returns in style on this killer tune. I love the rocking sound of the lead vocal and how it contrasts with that retro element. The vocal also has some hints of country in the delivery.
Stop Playing with My Heart
Bouncy and entertaining, this isn't a big change, but it works well. The song has some almost Janis Joplin level vocal passion at times.
I'm Gonna Take My Heart
A mellower, balladic piece, that retro organ is back to lend some flavor to this number. The cut has a bluesy vibe as it makes its way forward. Davina seems to be channeling Joplin on this number, too.
A fast paced jazz jam is on the menu here. This is another fun cut.
I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl
A slower moving, mellower cut, this isn't a big surprise with its retro jazz stylings. I'm just not sure it wouldn't have been better somewhere else on the disc. I think closing with "Goodnight" would have made sense both because of the lyrical relevance as a final shot and because of the energy of the tune. Still, this has some of the most traditional old-shool jazz of the whole disc and really brings some magic in the process.
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