Home Read Davina & The Vagabonds | Sugar Drops

Davina & The Vagabonds | Sugar Drops

You don't have to be a jazz buff to dig the Twin Cities crew's latest retro offering.

WHO ARE THEY? A retro-cool Twin Cities jazz-blues combo featuring superb singer-pianist Davina Sowers, a pair of horn players and a rhythm section.

WHAT IS THIS? Recorded in Nashville, Sugar Drops is their third studio album of mostly original material, their sixth release overall, their first disc cut outside of the rising stars’ home state — and their first that finds Sowers working with studio aces instead of her regular combo.

WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Not like your grampa’s 78s. Or even your daddy’s LPs. Although Sowers’ approach remains rooted in vintage New Orleans viper blues and hot jazz, her songs also reflect her troubled youth of drugs, homelessness and incarceration. Fittingly, her brassy tones and funky grooves come updated with contemporary pop, soul and R&B touches — ensuring Sowers and co. won’t be easily dismissed as another gang of kitschy revivalists.


HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? On a playlist with everyone from Billie Holiday, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Fats Domino to Squirrel Nut Zippers, Lake Street Dive and Amy Winehouse.

WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Authentic, inspired, charming, seductive, spirited, sassy, rollicking, inviting, irresistible, personal.

WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? Zippy ditties like Magic Kisses, the Caribbean-flavoured Devil Horns and the bluesier No Matter Where We Are will keep them in jazz fest gigs, while more current-sounding compositions like I Can’t Believe I Let You Go and Little Miss Moonshine can get them on to the pop circuit.

WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY? ‘You don’t have to like jazz to get into this.’

HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? At least a few times — Sowers’ sound will grab you right away, while her songwriting will grow on you.

IF THIS ALBUM WERE A CAR, WHAT KIND OF CAR WOULD IT BE? A lovingly preserved old Packard outfitted with satellite radio.

SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? Give her some sugar.