Perry Desmond-Davies - Sweet Ride
2009, Perry Desmond-Davies
The songwriting of Perry Desmond-Davies never stands on ceremony. The Massachusetts-based singer/songwriter writes from the heart and mind, songs about the ups and downs of everyday life that carry the weight of honest experience. Desmond-Davies has been a coffeehouse and café staple through New England since her debut back in 1998, and has appeared on New England Cable News and Wake Up And Smell The Poetry on Hopkington's HCAM-TV. Her most recent effort, Sweet Ride, features 14 musical soliloquies on the joys and pains of day-to-day life.
Sweet Ride opens with the title track, blending country, folk and blues in a song about enjoying life in its simplicity and being grateful for what we have. Desmond-Davies' voiced is unadulterated and pure, cut from the same working class cloth as artists such as Pete Seeger, Tom Waits and even a bit of early Janis Joplin. "Nobody Cares" is a beautiful and touching document of the fight against a debilitating disease (such as cancer), and of finding a place that feels like home when it is most needed. Desmond-Davies' melody is gorgeous. Anyone who has walked a similar path will feel an instant kinship with Desmond-Davies upon hearing this tune.
"Irresponsible" is all about letting go and getting lost in the moment, even if just for one moment. This is pure folk singer/songwriter material, featuring a memorable melody and a plus vocal performance from Desmond-Davies. "Longer Than You Know" is an apologist tune for falling out of love with someone who keeps hanging on. There's no indication of a change to come, but the regret expressed here is palpable and real. Desmond-Davies gets her blues shoes on with the entertaining "One Way Out", before transitioning into the Vaudevillian folk of "The Happy Song". The level of witty sarcasm here is surprising and enjoyable, and Desmond-Davies marries her rant to a wonderful melody and arrangement that soften the acerbic blows. This song is likely to be a show-stopper.
Desmond-Davies transitions away from death and relationship dysfunction with "New Beginnings", a peaceful song of starting over. The tune may seem a bit bland upon first listen, but spin it again, and the sense of peace and having survived the turmoil that precedes it comes to the fore the more you listen. "Nobody Cares" gets reprised as a meditative and thankful live recording. Desmond-Davies strains a bit at some of the higher notes, but this actual enhances the sense of urgency necessitating the circle of protection at the center of the song. Sweet Ride closes with two additional live recordings. "Song For Tom" is entirely forgettable as an addition here, although it likely seemed important in the moment it was recorded. "One Hot Mama" is a perfect close, however, with Desmond-Davies vamping it up ala Mama Morton.
Perry Desmond-Davies plays working class hero on Sweet Ride, sticking to the basics of everyday life and the human condition; drawing the joy and pain of small victories and subtle defeats out into the open in song. Desmond-Davies is a story-teller who writes songs, or a songwriter who tells-stories. It's hard to say which comes first, as the two talents blend thoroughly throughout Sweet Ride. Even on the songs where Desmond-Davies might not connect with a listener, she's still very much in the moment, finding the truth behind each note and word. A Sweet Ride it is.
Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Perry Desmond-Davies at www.perrydesmond-davies.com or www.myspace.com/perrydesmonddavies. Sweet Ride is available from Amazon.com as a CD or Download. The album is also available via iTunes.