March 24th, 2008 - More thoughts on the new disc

Will points out that AllMusic has a short writeup here and also there’s this from the Duluth Budgeteer (free reg. req.).

2 responses to “More thoughts on the new disc”

  1. Will says:

    Yeah, and if you don’t want to stay up to date with the latest news of Duluth (even if it is free), someone with my name posted the text of the review to a forum over here:

  2. Will says:

    2 articles from that Duluth paper

    *CD review: Davis set to become breakthrough artist with new release*
    John Ziegler, Duluth News Tribune
    Published Thursday, March 20, 2008

    He’s 36 years old and has been a singer/songwriter for 20 years. He has performed more than 1,000 shows and sold more than 60,000 copies of his 11 releases. He started his own record company, Dharma Pop, and has his own reality TV show. He’s completing his first book, “Sex, God, and Rock ‘n Roll,” and is developing a new language called “IS.”

    With Tuesday’s release of “Something Simple,” Stuart Davis is about to break through to a much larger audience. The harmonic convergence of the conception, writing and recording of this album was sprinkled with fairy dust from the start. This record was meant to be, and it moves Davis from his self-described slightly underground “post-apocalyptic-punk-folk” style to an artist vaulting into the mainstream.

    Through associations with film director Steve Brill (“Mr. Deeds Goes To Washington,” “The Mighty Ducks,” and “Little Nicky”) and record producer Alex Gibson (Jane’s Addiction, Keith Urban), Davis got a call to write a tune for an upcoming movie. He was sent five minutes of footage, wrote something and didn’t think much more about it.

    A producer called back to say he didn’t care for the song but loved the “humming thing” at the beginning.

    Davis re-wrote “Already Free” around the hummed melody and sent it back. Next came a call to come to Los Angeles to cut the track for “Drillbit Taylor,” a movie starring Owen Wilson that opens Friday. An album seemed a logical extension so Davis and his family spent two months in L.A. while he recorded “Something Simple.”

    Some tunes were done, others were written during the recording and a couple were re-recorded from earlier projects. The tracking took place in Jim Henson’s studio, the former A & M studio, where superstars wander in and out.

    The unwritten rule is that no one ever is solicited to work on your project, but “Something Simple” still drew Wendy Melvoin (from Prince & the Revolution), John Shanks (Sheryl Crow, Santana, Fleetwood Mac), Brendan O’Brien (recently produced Bruce Springsteen), Dave Levita (Alanis Morrisette), Eddie Kowalczyk (Live) and others.

    All of them volunteered to help when they heard the work in progress, Davis said. This record wasn’t sprinkled with fairy dust, it was drenched.

    Davis, who also plays guitar, departs just a smidge from his usual menu of God, sex, life and death. His wife and two daughters are the prime focus of his writing in this album. “Already Free” is a tribute to his wife and the enlightenment he has attained through their relationship. No longer the nomadic mystic, Davis has settled, albeit kicking and screaming, into married life in Boulder, Colo., and everyone benefits.

    “The River” shares his love for his kids. The day-to-day experience of family life has completely redefined Davis’ thinking on what it means to be a fully realized human being. He bathes in the love of his family: “Feel a million arms around me when I get in the river, every color of light surrounds me when I get in the river.”

    Going into the darker places is a Davis hallmark, and he goes there on “Fear Of Light.” Though the tone is poppy and accessible, it probes real phobias (dark vs. light) that haunt many people: “This fevered dream, this suffocating night keeps my heart asleep in fear of light.”

    The birth of Davis’ first daughter showed him what it was to be in the presence of something holy. “Miracle” shows a father’s love “… that night your comet fell into our wishing well, it made your mother laugh, it cut your dad in half.”

    With major-league distribution from Ryko/WEA, this will be the first exposure to Davis’ music for many people. He dipped back to his “Self-Untitled” disc and re-recorded “Universe Communion” that delves into the alien abduction phenomenon. Audiences have consistently responded to this song that says we live with our heads in the sand “… we stifle and smother the mystic wonder, is our arrogance a deafening fear of what we’ll have to hear?”

    Not only does Davis have his new release, he also brings to his fans a nationwide tour, the last five minutes of the soundtrack to a major motion picture, a new book, his television show and his own language. After 20 years of honing his craft, Davis is poised to be the next overnight sensation.

    John Ziegler has worked as program and music director KUMD-FM for 31 years. He’s produced seven compilation discs from some of his 3,500 in-studio sessions. He reviews music for the News Tribune. Reach him at


    *Musician on the fringe gives mainstream a try*
    Nina Petersen-Perlman Duluth News Tribune
    Published Thursday, March 20, 2008

    Renaissance man for the 21st century, Stuart Davis has his fingers in all sorts of artistic pies.

    He has a fictional autobiography called “Sex, God & Rock ‘n Roll” coming out this year. He’s created several episodes of an eponymous high-definition TV show. He’s in the midst of developing an independent film called “Twisted Mystics,” in which various leaders of world religions join forces to stop fundamentalists. He’s even planning an art show this fall to exhibit his calligraphy drawings.

    But right now, the focus is on his main squeeze: music. Davis is releasing his 12th studio album, “Something Simple,” with music he said is inspired by “the family being a spiritual practice, being a way to wake up.” He’s playing a CD release concert at 7 p.m. Saturday in UMD’s Weber Music Hall.

    Stuart Davis is a singer/songwriter with many talents who has made his past 11 albums more for himself than for his fans, but Davis’ 12th album tries to attract a broader audience with a pop feel and messages about family. [SUBMITTED PHOTO]

    This time around, the singer/songwriter is set to grasp the popularity he always has been a little too out-of-the-mainstream to call his own.

    “I spent 10 years making any kind of record I wanted at any time,” Davis said. “Those were more for my enjoyment, in some way. I was more interested in experimenting with music for music’s sake.

    “In a way, it was selfishly gratifying to be a cult musician. I’ve never had to be accountable.”

    Davis said this album, on which he plays acoustic guitar on all 12 tracks, is intentionally “a lot more pop” and his attempt to connect with a lot more people. One big test was his parents, a duo Davis described as “Midwestern Christians with good values” who hadn’t been able to listen to his previous albums because of the heavy references to sex, drugs and unusual spiritual practices. Davis was proud to report they loved “Something Simple.”

    Davis will get a boost in connecting with people when Owen Wilson’s new movie “Drillbit Taylor” hits screens Friday. “Already Free,” which is featured in the film’s final minutes, is the first track on Davis’ album.

    Mainstream success in the music industry never is a sure thing, said Jason Wussow, who has hosted Davis several times at Beaner’s Central.

    “It depends on having a lot of good, enthusiastic people behind you,” Wussow said. “It’s being in the right place in the right time and the planets aligning.”

    Davis said he will know he’s hit the big time when David Letterman or the “Saturday Night Live” crew sends him an invite to appear on a show because that’s when he will know he’s had an impact on culture at large.

    “It’s not a monetary or success thing, but I do want to experience connecting with more people,” he said.

    Davis acknowledged that broader enthusiasm for his work may come at the expense of his hardcore fans, a fate he said he’s seen when other cult musicians such as Ani DiFranco or Regina Spektor hit the big time. He doesn’t consider searching for a wider audience as “selling out,” though, because he said he created the new album with “the deepest integrity.”

    “I am 100 percent in alignment with it,” he said. “If I lose some fans, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

    Many of Davis’ fans are in the Midwest, where he makes a point to stop on every tour despite being based in Boulder, Colo. Davis said he feels a connection with the area because his roots are here. He was born in Iowa and grew up in suburban Minneapolis. His brother and nephews live in Duluth, a city he can’t resist visiting when he hits the road.

    “I’m secretly in love with the shipping industry,” Davis said. “I can’t go through Midwest without frolicking with my water love.”

    Wussow said Davis’ shows always pack a wallop, whether he’s alone or accompanied by his band.

    “I think he’s always entertaining and always interesting,” Wussow said. “He pushes the envelope. He’s definitely worth seeing.”

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