Deeper into Music:: Mark Davis Eliminate the Toxins

Another treat here. Mark Davis just released what will probably end up as my favorite album of 2011. Riding a courageous blend of roots, pop, electronics and even hints of dub, Davis smashes through the barriers that have all but stagnated today’s roots scene. There is nothing safe or reserved. No water to ease the burn.


It’s a call to arms, a warning that every new band should heed before picking up a lap steel. People love to complain, typecast the “guy with a guitar” and overlook talent to find the next big sound. Davis shows that simply building on tradition and injecting risk and creativity is more than enough to change the way we think about a dated descriptor.


Here’s an exclusive look at the harmony laced, insecurity riddled gem, “Go To Ground.” Somehow Mark makes the feeling of being an impostor seem warm and inviting. Pick up Eliminate the Toxins from Saved By Radio today.

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MP3:: Mark Davis - Go To Ground

“How Many Angels?” - In spite a shift towards fiction and less autobiographical content, historically, my lyric-writing has largely been informed by personal experiences. Foremost amongst those experiences has been the passing of a loved-one after suffering from breast cancer. In the song ‘Saved By Radio’ (from Don’t You Think We Should Be Closer?, 2007), I declared, “this’ll be my last mourning song. I think I’m right, but I might be wrong.” More of an incantation than a song, ‘How Many Angels?’ proves that I was wrong.


“Eliminate the Toxins” - The title-track on my new album had it’s genesis in a conversation with my Old Reliable band-mate, Shuyler Jansen that took place many years ago on the patio of the Railway Club in Vancouver, next to a vintage advertisement for a tonic promising to eliminate the poisons from one’s system. Thematically, ‘Eliminate the Toxins’ cuts a wide swath; but for the most part, the song is about taking stock of one’s life at the age of 40, and identifying the healthiest direction(s) in which to travel. What to carry with you and what to leave behind? And whatever decisions you make, having no regrets.


“Waste No Tears” - While tightly wrapping myself in the warm blanket of post-dub electronica as practiced by the likes of Pole and Pan American, I rediscovered my fondness for the the vastly underrated Vini Reilly and his band, the Duritti Column. Referencing a line from Night by Elie Wiesel, ‘Waste No Tears’ encourages the display of strength and dignity in the face of adversity, and the embracing of the eventuality of facing worse situations farther down the line.


“Go to Ground” - With lines such as “I could never reach your mantle, all on account of what I’ve done” and “I could never hold a candle to half of what you have become”, ‘Go to Ground’ very directly addresses feeling like an impostor, and the anxiety connected to establishing one’s credibility before being exposed as one. The harmony vocal on the second chorus is one of my proudest recorded accomplishments.


“In the Waters” - It’s in the waters; it’s in the air. It’s everywhere. It could get you now, or it could get you later. Having repeatedly borne witness to it’s savage ruthlessness, it’s hard to shake the notion that it’ll get us all in the end. A jangly effervescence plays counterpart to the gloom. I believe in the virtues of hard work as much as the next person. I just don’t like going to work (as in “for the man”). While I continue to benefit from the services and commodities provided by those who toil willingly, or most-often, of course, out of necessity, I will never relent in my efforts to make my living from my own skills on my own terms. For the most part, the post-Celtic Dragons was written while driving between Edmonton and Sherwood Park on Baseline Road - one of the most unsightly stretches of road in the entire province of Alberta, the stretch of road I continue to travel on my way to serving “the man.”


“A Good One” - While my initial forays into the craft of songwriting took place while under the influence of the likes of Phil Ochs and early Bob Dylan, a “protest singer” I was not meant to be; I was equally under the sway of the romantic mysticism of Townes Van Zandt, Nick Drake, and later Bob Dylan. While many of my songs are personal “protests” in the face of personal challenges, ‘A Good One’ is my first recorded attempt at expressing protest on behalf of a collective united by the common belief that guns are stupid.


“Let the World Know Where You Are” - I have spent the past five years facilitating an arts program for developmentally challenged adults. Essentially, ‘Let the World Know Where You Are’ describes in song what one participant in our painting classes repeatedly depicts in his artwork: rainbow houses, cloudless blue skies with planes destined for unknown places, one car in the driveway, and a climbing-tree in the yard. Invariably, the artist paints his parents and siblings into his pictures. Unfortunately, too many individuals born with developmental disabilities, or suffering from mental illness do not have the benefit and comfort afforded by consistent, healthy relationships with family. Hence the chorus.


“Dream” - Anyone you hold dear can disappear in the blink of an eye. They can also surprise you by paying you visits in your dreams. Much like ‘In the Waters’, this song juxtaposes the somber themes of death by cancer with uplifting sonic qualities, propelled by a chiming 12-string, electric guitar.


“Throw It Away” - “I” could be your heartbroken ex-lover, assailed by the insults of a love now unrequited. “I” could be your soul-destroyed mother devastated by your failure to pass on the love bestowed upon you. “I” could be your delusional stalker, convinced of the existence of a bond that never was. “I” could be your committed canine companion instinctively and faithfully hanging on your every command. Regardless of who “I” am, or how I am treated, “you” are the object of my unconditional, unflinching, and undying affection.


“Wounded Wing” - “Wounded Wing” is the name of a book by Margie Koop about raising two songs with developmental challenges. It struck me as a great name and seed for a song. In the content, the two works are unrelated, save for the invocation of, and empathy for the
suffering of an innocent. This song was recorded live in one take




This entry was posted on Friday, July 8th, 2011 at 8:37 am and is filed under 2011, Best-of '11, Canada, Deeper into Music, Music, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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