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Reality Bends

Arthur Davenport

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Customer Reviews

Far-Out Mountain Man

"Using only an acoustic guitar as backup, Arthur Davenport crafts sparse, haunting folk songs with a wry sense of the absurd. Deftly hopping from one vocal personality another, sometimes within a line, this far-out mountain man keeps the listener guessing." Mike McGuire, Listen.com 1999

Literate, stylish & melodic song collection

Arthur Davenport's 'Reality Bends' is the perfect accompaniment for armchair travellers, who enjoy a quiet evening at home, yearning for far horizons. Literate, stylish & melodic songs stripped down to the bare bones essentials. A voice and guitar in perfect working cooperation, reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot, Cat Stevens or John Prine. The cd opens with two yearning contemplative tracks, "So Near, So Far" and "Tie That Binds", then the skies open up with a harmonic shower for "Rain", a fun little tune that is sure to appeal to kids and adults alike. "Reality Bends", the title track, is an ambitious journey of discovery, both lyrically and melodically, then in "Walking Song" we return back to terra firma, but with a definite skip in our step. "Leilani" is a personal favorite track, with an appealling bossa nova beat and a soaring melody, then "Dancing Girl" serves up a melancholy ode to a lonely barmaid and her reluctant suitor, but settling down is out of the question, this cd is a restless soul, and "Come a Roaming" gets back in the saddle and hits the dusty trail. "Longfellow" and "You Who" travel far and wide, with a celtic flavor that remind this listener of Irish folk songs, but with a contemporary flavor. "The Coral Reefy Song" seems to return home to Hawaii, with a fun ukulele arrangement, and a playful lyric that will appeal to the kid in all of us. "Looking for the Day" seems to return full circle, contemplative, with a eye towards where you've been, and happy in where you are, but with a secret yearning towards where you have yet to go. An enjoyable journey, that leaves you with a hopeful sentiment - "it will be alright (when you close your eyes)"

Spellbinding Simplicity

Music is really a primitive thing, if you think about it. Tones of varying duration and frequency work their way into our ears. From there, they go through some staging area within our heads. And sometimes, that staging area turns those tones and frequencies into an emotional experience of some sort. Simplicity. It can be spellbinding. “Reality Bends”, the latest CD from singer-songwriter Arthur Davenport, is one of those simplicity-formulated forays into primitively-created, un-over-produced music. Which isn’t to say that it sounds primitive. It doesn’t: The rich tones in both instrumentation and vocals are captured with their clarity and tonal brilliance intact; successfully gilded into the ones and zeros that pocket the digital medium; a successful transfer of soul to soulless device at the hands of journeyman producer Jon Mayer (Different Fur Recording). No, the simplicity and primitiveness are in execution only: Take a stick with six strings attached, a singer, a microphone, and go to it. If what is generated can keep you listening, then there’s genius in the house, ladies and gentlemen. Sit up and take notice. And if you have a CD’s worth of the stuff, then you’ve got sonic gold; stuff that you oughta make your kids put onto their iPods and write a report about on their laptops. And that’s what “Reality Bends” does to you. Take the opening swag, the wisdom-stuffed “So Near, So Far”. One deep, multi-layered strike on the acoustic, and you’re hooked: The simplicity that builds anticipation, makes you sit back a little deeper in your chair, waiting for the melody to weave its tapestry. Then the voice, rising above the strings like a cold breeze on a colder day, joins in, and the thing is you knew it belonged there all the time, but just didn’t notice it’s absence, not just yet. Part Neil Young, part Gordon Lightfoot, part Harry McLintock; Davenport’s voice mixes those classic American vocal influences into something unique and soul-scratching. It’s one of those kinds of voices that, when you hear it, you know it’s about to begin a story, or it’s in the middle of one and you just know, with the simplicity that a child has, that the story will end well. And that’s just the musical, sensory side. Lyrically, you take the resonance of a Kotke and the rhythm of a Taylor and you’re approaching Davenport’s coarse, spell-blindingly-simple words. The collection here has been described as “poems”, but that’s like saying the space shuttle is an airplane: What’s missing from that word “poem” in this context is the performance side of Davenport’s compositions; the story-teller’s proclamations, whispers, condemnations, and confessions. The swell and release of mystery, drama, climax, and denouement; emphasized by voice and strings, struck with confidence and conviction. Crafted? Yes. Gut-wrenchingly real? You know it. Poetic? Sure: Brilliant stuff from a brilliant wordsmith, done in a simple style that strikes home, all the more because of its unadorned, un-assumed posturing. And the better news is that the “Reality Bends” collection gives us a panoramic view of Davenport’s breathtaking range. From the cruel reality of “Dancing Girl”, to the whimsical, child-like play of “Rain” and “The Coral Reefy Song”, to the sweet romance of “Leilani”, to the measured reflections in the title track; Davenport serves up the brilliance in simple, spellbinding doses. And that’s what Davenport does, in a simply-primitive, soul-shaking style that leaves you still; quietly contemplating the emotions that his spells have conjured up. “Reality Bends”: Go ahead, put it on your iPod. Sure, it may feel sacrilegious, but really, there’s nothing morally wrong with it.

Reality Bends, Arthur Davenport
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