Ryan Davis and the Roadhouse Band

Among the records that have haunted my speakers most frequently over the past few month, Ryan Davis’ solo debut may be the most constant. Davis and his shadow have been a fairly permanent fixture around here, from his output as State Champion, to his work with Equipment Pointed Ankh, and his steady hand on the catalog of Sophomore Lounge. The solo stint, his first under his own name, with his backing crew dubbed The Roadhouse Band, comes after a period of pause. He’s been hooked into esoteric with the Ankh for a while, and his last hop through the pop canon was State Champion’s Send Flowers in 2018. The new record might be as close as any to a follow-up to that record, but time has a way of reshaping the soul, and this record is something new for the Indiana songwriter.

Davis wraps his songs around the wit n’ wordiness carved into the Berman barstool, but adds his own knowing wink. With a troubadour’s heart, Davis drums up drinking songs about playing ‘got yer nose with the face of death,’ jukeboxes that only play “The Sultans of Swing,” and ‘places where the Asphault is still smeared with the deer of the ‘90s.’ With the band greased to perfection behind him, he makes a collection of 6 to 9 minute monologues breeze by like a cache of favorite jukebox singles. The Roadhouse winds up a pretty familiar feeding ground, driven by his bandmates in the Ankh, but with pop-ins from Joan Shelley, Catherine Irwin (Freakwater), Will Lawrence (Gun Outfit), Elisabeth Fuchsia (Footings, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy) and more. The comfort and camaraderie between Davis and the band are what make the record among his most comforting, swaddling his screeds in pedal steel, Fuchsia’s impeccable strings, honeyed strums and a sigh of background vocals. 2023 is stuffed with more music than most can comb through in a decade, let alone a year, but I implore you to make room for this one and to let it sink down to the bones.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

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