Blues Underground Network
Davina And The Vagabonds "Black Cloud"
When they make up the list of the hardest working bands each year, one that certainly can be found at the top of that list is Davina And The Vagabonds. With an astounding average of over 300 gigs a year over a five year period, Davina And The Vagabonds have played to thrilled audiences from Minneapolis to Switzerland and beyond. Fronted by Davina Sowers, whom is considered by many to be "one of the hardest-working blues woman on the road today", Davina And The Vagabonds have made enormous strides over the last few years and now with their release of "Black Cloud", we all get to see why.
Best described as a raucous and eclectic mix of "Soul, Jazz, Blues, Gospel and Dixieland", "Black Cloud", Davina And The Vagabonds, fourth release, could easily be described as Sgt. Pepper and The Lonely Hearts Club Band Goes To Dixieland. Bordering a lot more on the Jazzy, Dixieland Spectrum of music, "Black Cloud" is certainly still an album you should not sway away from just because it may not be as Bluesy as you might like, after all, there are quite a few albums that should be listened to just on the merit of the fact that they are quite good and quite unique, "Black Cloud" falls into that category.
Davina Sowers' singing has been compared to Bonnie Raitt, Etta James, and Amy Winehouse. I for one can certainly attest to the comparison to Amy Winehouse, whom I still consider to be an amazing talent, despite her on going addiction problems. Coming from an extremely talented background, Davina Sowers, whom has been performing since the age of 5, is a virtual powerhouse performer whom simply leaves her audiences in awe, where ever she and The Vagabonds perform. An example of the impression she and the band leaves with audiences can easily be seen via their appearances at Minnesota's Bayfront Blues Festival, in which they had the highest on-site CD sales of any artist performing at that event for three years in a row. Not an easy at all thing to accomplish and one that is only a small indicator of their immense talent. Davina And The Vagabonds has also shared the stage with many musical heavyweights including, Joe Bonamassa, Little Feat, Buddy Guy, The Blues Brothers, and Irma Thomas, to name a few.
In addition to Davinas' outstanding virtuosity, as a Singer and Classically Trained Pianist, she is joined on this release by Michael Carvale (Upright Bass), Darren Sterud (Trombone), Connor Mcrae (Drums), and Dan Eikmeier (Trumpet). Each and everyone one of The Vagabonds are extremely talented musicians, something that comes through loud and clear on "Black Cloud".
"Black Cloud" consists of 14 tracks, all originals, and all written by Davina Sowers. "Black Cloud" marks their first album of entirely original music and also shows off Davina's talent as a writer. Sandwiched between the mainly instrumental "Vagabond Stomp" (intro) and "Vagabond Stomp" (outro), the remaining 12 tracks on "Black Cloud" has no problem show casing a band, that has not only found their unique niche', but has also learned how to bring that niche' forward to the masses. Most of the songs on this track will give you a feeling that you are listening to a Soundtrack similar to Moulon Rouge, which I found quite interesting because this whole album was easily able to invoke unique images in my head, as if I were more listening to a movie with my eyes closed, then simply a CD.
The Amy Winehouse comparison does not take long as track 3, "Disappears", starts playing and it is actually quite hard not to picture Amy when listening to this one, a feeling and sound that continues into the next track "Start Running". Great work from the whole band on that one. After two slower tracks, "Black Cloud" heats once again with "Lipstick and Chrome" with Davina once again showing off her talent pounding the keys on her Piano.
The closest I can figure that "Black Cloud" gets to the Blues is with their Soulful Blues track "River" which clearly leaves no doubt in ones mind that Davina is certainly a, Singer Extraordinaire.
The remainder of "Black Cloud" offers up more of the same great heart pumping Jazz and Dixieland sound, with a little Gospel thrown in for the second to last track, "Carry Him With You".
For me, I can't really call "Black Cloud" a Blues album other then perhaps the themes to a lot of the songs may be blues oriented in nature. I can, however, call "Black Cloud" a very good album courtesy of a immensely talented group of individuals, with Davina Sowers taking stage, front and center. It was not hard at all to see why Davina And The Vagabonds are such popular band after listening to this release and although the name of this album is Black Cloud, you can be absolutely certain that is does come with a silver lining.
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
1. Vagabond Stomp (intro)
2. Black Cloud
4. Start Running
5. Sugar Moon
7. Lipstick and Chrome
10. Let's Bring It Back
11. Bee Sting
13. Carry Him With You
14. Vagabond Stomp (outro)