Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The way that Shenandoah Davis plays her piano is spectacular. It's like a flock of peacocks are spreading their wings right out there in the middle of an Independence Day fireworks celebration's grand finale. It's like a month's worth of sunsets are all setting simultaneously, or they've all been printed onto clear plastic animation cells and have been placed over-top one another - played out all at once. What she brings to those keys is something like a five-course meal. It's the meat and the potatoes, the salad, the appetizer and the dessert, all heading straight to the same pinpointed place.
They are all the different colors and hues that are pressing out of her eyes, maybe leaving her through her teeth and tongue - on the fast-track from the recesses of where she keeps all of her dark concerns and the nostalgic, Polaroid memories. They are the tones as they rest within her - that memory of sleeping underneath her grandfather's piano, an act that must have had a profound effect on her. Sure, the image could be completely fabricated for the benefit of the narrative, but I would be seriously doubtful. I believe that Davis sought out and chose to fall asleep at the feet of her grandparents, below that upright piano. She could have been tired from anything, but it was likely something like the ice cream covered in Planters dry-roasted peanuts that we only had when we visited grandma when she was older, though we were never exactly sure how damned much older she actually was. We only learned when she was gone.
Davis gives words to her inner thoughts and those are the lyrics that she provides - always of great depth and with a theatrical bent (those that are meant for places with balconies and a wine-only bar) - but there is twice as much to delve into if we listen to what's in the nervous way that her hands move across her piano. She perpetuates feelings that are never going to be quelled. They are feelings that are set to rattle through her for as long as she's still upright. They are scars that she's been able to turn musical. They are the shakes and the jitters that she sleeps with. They are those sensations that she finds hard to make wane, but it's all alright. She fits them in where she needs them. She gives them blankets, pillows and three squares a day, finding their company to be quite welcome when the nights get too long.