I can’t honestly think of a time when an album title has been more suited to the sound of an album than with British Soul. Not only could this album be described as a British soul record but it has a British soul. There is no way that this album could have been recorded anywhere else, it’s British summer evenings, the British countryside and the romantic image of Britain which we all hope still exists. It feels like it’s ours.
British Soul is the creation of soul/folk band Daughters Of Davis. Hailing from Winchester sisters Fern and Adrienne left the comforts of home and regular jobs a couple of years ago for life in a campervan and the dream of taking their music to as many people as possible. A move which seems to have paid off, as a debut album ‘To The Water’ and tours of Europe with the likes of Rebecca Ferguson have followed. British Soul is the follow up to the duos aforementioned debut and what a follow up it is.
The album’s title track gets things underway in brilliantly feel good style. The country tinged effort has a nice tempo and ‘We’ve got no food but always got tea’ might be the most English lyric that I have ever come across. Much like the rest of the album I just found that lyric beautifully endearing. That’s not to say that the track is perfect however as the vocal gymnastics that feature throughout feel a bit forced and a little unnecessary, if they had been toned down a little then to my mind the track would have been perfect.
The up-tempo feel continues into ‘Get Back’ which has to be one of the highlights of the entire album. The central melody has almost a funk feel about it and the track is just so unbelievably smooth, it glides from your speakers like a swan glides across a lake. The forced elements of the vocal on the opener have been replaced by an effortlessness which rather than trying to overpower the track really help its flow from beginning to end. ‘Is It For Me’ sees the pace drop slightly, as the stripped back opening really brings the vocal to the forefront and highlights further what was already massively obvious… These girls can sing, and I mean really sing.
As good as the first three tracks are the next song ‘Honest Woman’ lost me a little bit. That’s not to say that there is anything dramatically wrong with it, it just didn’t grab me. I have nothing against ballads but this one just didn’t pull me in, the song is ok as an album track but it isn’t really anything more than that. ‘The Trade’ is probably my favourite track on the album and it highlights everything that is great about Daughters Of Davis, and some of what was missing on ‘Honest Woman.’ The blend of the vocals is only topped in blend leader board by the blend of my favourite coffee; it’s fantastic. The pace is picked up and the stripped back section about two thirds of the way through gives the song a nice balance. On this track and throughout the album as a whole it just feels like this kind of song comes a lot more naturally to the duo and this is really where they are at their best.
‘Bathsheba’ is another enjoyable track, heavy on melody and vocal harmony, honestly what is there not to like about that? From here things lean more towards a Californian light rock sound with the Fleetwood Mac influenced ‘Can We Get Away.’ This track could have come straight from ‘Rumours’ and I don’t say that lightly, the stopping drum beat, the driving rhythm; the only thing missing is a solo from Lindsey Buckingham.
I have already hinted when talking about the title track that these guys have a sense of humour and sharp wit and that is again in evidence here on the light-hearted take on sibling rivalry that is ‘Catch Me If You Can.’ I am now going to use the following line as guidance on how to settle arguments in the future…
‘I will grab two pillows and my water gun, I’ll shoot you in the head and then I’ll run.’
That sounds perfectly reasonable to me.
‘Footprints’ is another ballad but it doesn’t feel as forced as the earlier one, and is a track that you can easily get lost in. It just connected with me a lot more, what can I say, I’m an emotional man. Penultimate track ‘The River’ is massively stripped back and I must admit that it took a few listens to start to grow on me. On the first few spins I just didn’t think that it did enough, it just sort wandered around in circles without really going anywhere. It has grown on me to an extent but the melody gets a little bit samey after a while and while I think overall it’s a solid album track it’s not a standout moment.
However things go out on a far bouncier note as the sisters put their spin on ‘Amazing Grace.’ It’s a great way to round off the album and finally nails down in my head the comparison I have been trying to make for as long as I have been writing this review. Daughters Of Davis are like a British version of The Pierces. I mean that as a massive compliment by the way as I think those girls are seriously talented.
British Soul was everything I hoped it would be. You can’t really pin it to one genre as it floats between so many, it’s a just a great little record. It’s not without its wobbles of course. There are moments when it feels like they are trying too hard and I don’t think that they are especially suited to ballads either, that’s just not where their strengths lie. However, vocally the duo are outstanding, I love the song writing and the ‘homely’ feel to the whole record. Also I love a good melody and vocal harmony more than I love some members of my own family so I enjoyed the emphasis on that side of things immensely.
This is a very good album but the best bit is that I think that there could be even more to come in the future. Daughters Of Davis have the talent to go far. But for now give this record a listen you won’t be disappointed.
British Soul is out now