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Tanya Davis - Clocks and Hearts Keep Going

By: Amanda Lewis

Tanya Davis - Clocks and Hearts Keep Going

Tanya Davis
Clocks and Hearts Keep Going

(Indie)

SOUNDS LIKE: In a word: Sparse. In more words: Melancholy, understated grace.

If I were asked to describe Clocks and Hearts Keep Going with one word, it would have to be "sparse." Thankfully that isn't the task I've been assigned, because it would seriously downplay the understated and melancholic grace of this album. The third release by Haligonian poet and chanteuse Tanya Davis, and her first working with fellow Canadian producer Jim Bryson, Clocks and Hearts is a testament to the power of a hummable melody and folk-rock guitar.

The heavyhearted subject matter of the album is evident from a glance down the tracklist, with song titles like "Hush, Little Weeper" and "Eulogy for You and Me." Surprisingly, however, the tone of the album doesn't evoke the cold feelings of the initial moments of grief. There's a sense of space between the individual instruments but the overall tone is warm and enveloping. The relatively clean electric guitar tone of "Hush, Little Weeper" and the reverb-heavy guitar of the next track, "One Room," for example, are not at all brittle or bright. They provide a blanket of sound in which Davis' breathy vocals safely nestle.

Considering her history as a successful poet, it's unsurprising that Davis' vocals are the centerpiece to all of her tracks. While her mournful lyrics certainly help set the tone of Clocks and Hearts, her vocal performance is the real heart of the album. Davis' clear pronunciation, delicate vocal delivery and simple, folk melodies lend the songs a sense of intimacy that project listeners into her experiences. At times her voice comes nearer to speech than to singing, like on "Eulogy for You and Me," but even in these moments there's vulnerability in the plain, almost flat manner in which Davis surrenders her words that implies honest expression.

This isn't to say that Clocks and Hearts Keep Going is completely without faults. While the songs are engaging and flow from one another naturally, Davis and Bryson haven't created much contrast from track to track. While there are drums on some tracks and not on others, and only the song "Sad Story" includes the use of a banjo, the truth is that the album is a sort of an auditory and emotional muddy middleground from top to bottom. However, in an age where people more and more frequently listen to individual tracks rather than whole albums, and the shuffle button on the iPod has become so very important to everyday listening, I'm not sure how much this matters. Individually Davis' songs are heartfelt and moving, and Clocks and Hearts Keep Going will undoubtedly become a seminal piece of musical Canadiana.

 


Video: “Gorgeous Morning" & "Don’t Bury Me“ by Tanya Davis

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