Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Don't ever call it a fool's pursuit, this making of stuff, this choice to use brains and a body's time to write lovely things, to make paintings and to cling a voice to others in a miracle formation - a noteworthy example of people coexisting to manufacturer's specifications. Bart Davenport would gasp, a loud and demonstrative gasp, and strike you across the cheek just to send a message, but then he'd smooth over the violence with a counterpoint that would include him pulling you close and rubbing out the sting in your cheek, saying, "Tell me about. Let's get a coffee. I think we've got a lot to talk about cause I think the same thing sometimes and I beat myself up about it quite frequently too." Davenport, the longtime San Franciscan, is a staunch disbeliever of the thought that either his life's work of writing alarmingly brilliant pop and soul songs - or anyone else's life's work in the creative arts - is a toss-away sort of action. It's not a time-waster. It might not always pay the bills, but it's not a joke and somewhere in the pantheon of valuable but thankless pursuits, it should rank very high. The music that this trim man has been making for decades is rife with a soothing measure that freezes you right where you are when it begins to play. It doesn't take you into the countryside along with the corncribs and the babbling brooks, the peasants rising like gangbusters from the under brush and the crisp airs of the Northwest like the songs of Fleet Foxes do, but instead they touch on a similarly irresistible vibration that zings your entire body with an electric warmth. It goes well beyond just the song qualities of the material and actually gets into the inner organs, into the hair follicles and starts acting on many of the deeper substances. Davenport takes us down the avenues of love and relationship that are classic, that are moving and sweet. He takes us inside the ropes and dissects the most trying aspects of love and then regenerates his findings into both sing-along choruses and rainy-day transports that are eerily magnificent and irrefutable. There is enough about each and every single one of his songs that could make anyone hearing them to make a claim that he's one of America's finest and most underappreciated troubadours. There's enough in each and every single one of his songs that could make anyone hearing them stumble into a blathering stammer about how modernly antique it all sounds. It will make you feel wise and smiley. It will make claims that you need to start lounging more as the music can't lounge any more than it already does - in a very workman-like fashion - dreamily suggesting that troubles will wash in the rain and the odds can't be stacked against us, they just can't. He sings of palaces sitting on shifting sands and that's Davenport's way of examining the importance of not only his life, but the pursuits of so many doing what they feel they're being compelled to do - another in a long line of folks attempting to make sense of and to bring general betterment to the place they call home for whatever the time being calls for. It's a question always worth asking and rarely worth understanding as these relics of the creative process will stand in these wrinkles that are made and the debilitating thought of them being needlessly constructed and offered shouldn't break his heart or his hands. His songs - unlike summer and migrating birds - won't fly. They belong here and they're staying put.
Bart Davenport Official Site