Black Cloud by Davina and The Vagabonds on Apple Music

14 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Possessing both a formidable growl and a velvety purr, singer/keyboardist Davina Sowers leads her Vagabonds through a brassy batch of songs on Black Cloud, her group’s first album of all-original material. The Minneapolis-based quintet draws heavily from old-time Dixieland for inspiration, with some ’60-era R&B and pop elements thrown in for good measure. Sowers’ quirky vocals slide easily from blues-mama brazenness (“Black Cloud,” “Start Runnin”) to sweet, sultry retro soul (“Disappears,” “River”) without blurring her distinctive persona. On spooky ‘30s-style cabaret numbers like “Pushpin” and “Let’s Bring It Back,” she sounds like an uncanny (and delightful) fusion of Sophie Tucker and Regina Spektor. Just when she seems lost in the throes of carnal excess, Sowers delivers “Carry Him With You,” a fervent gospel tune complete with simmering church organ. The Vagabonds lend crucial support throughout, with Darren Sterud’s full-throated trombone and Michael Carvale’s agile standup bass turning in some especially tasty solo moments.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Possessing both a formidable growl and a velvety purr, singer/keyboardist Davina Sowers leads her Vagabonds through a brassy batch of songs on Black Cloud, her group’s first album of all-original material. The Minneapolis-based quintet draws heavily from old-time Dixieland for inspiration, with some ’60-era R&B and pop elements thrown in for good measure. Sowers’ quirky vocals slide easily from blues-mama brazenness (“Black Cloud,” “Start Runnin”) to sweet, sultry retro soul (“Disappears,” “River”) without blurring her distinctive persona. On spooky ‘30s-style cabaret numbers like “Pushpin” and “Let’s Bring It Back,” she sounds like an uncanny (and delightful) fusion of Sophie Tucker and Regina Spektor. Just when she seems lost in the throes of carnal excess, Sowers delivers “Carry Him With You,” a fervent gospel tune complete with simmering church organ. The Vagabonds lend crucial support throughout, with Darren Sterud’s full-throated trombone and Michael Carvale’s agile standup bass turning in some especially tasty solo moments.

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1:42
2:24
2:59
2:46
4:05
3:40
3:40
4:59
3:22
4:26
2:24
3:25
3:24
0:57

About Davina and The Vagabonds

Davina & the Vagabonds keep the sounds of the '30s alive, playing old-fashioned New Orleans jazz and blues in the 21st century. There's a wry wink in the delivery of Davina Sowers. As the quintet's frontwoman, she may occasionally mirror the phrasing of Billie Holiday and evoke Holiday's ghost, but the group plays this music as retro good times, something that's evident on their first two albums, Black Cloud and Sunshine. Sowers (vocals, piano), Matt Blake (bass), Dan Eikmeier (trumpet), Ben Link (trombone), and Connor McRae (drums) formed Davina & the Vagabonds in Minneapolis in 2006. Over the next few years, the group gigged regularly, building up a reputation in the Twin Cities for their slyly updated nostalgia. Their first album, Black Cloud, appeared in 2011 and it earned positive reviews. Sunshine, arriving in 2014, bolstered the group's reputation, charting at 13 on Billboard's blues chart. In 2016, they released their third full-length, Nicollet and Tenth. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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