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Now Hear This: Dennis Davison | The Book of Strongman

I'm getting caught up on the good albums that have come out lately. Like this one.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:The Book of Strongman is the debut solo album by Dennis Davison. Dennis was the lead singer and songwriter in the Grammy-nominated band The Jigsaw Seen. The band released nine masterful albums throughout their history and were featured on numerous compilations and collections including the seminal Children of Nuggets box set. Dennis was also the lead vocalist for neo-psych pioneers United States of Existence.

His first solo album is brimming with highly personal and sonically surprising songs. Album opener Strongman and Sonny James tells the tale of a 15-year-old soldier who finds himself in the midst of the Korean War in 1950. By song’s end, Davison has woven the true tale of his father Walter and his army comrade, country singer Sonny James into his own story of a fictionalized superhero called Strongman. Dennis created the Strongman character when he was a child, based on his father.

The battle theme continues on Heaven Bound, where mental illness is the issue at hand. Can You Imagine? takes on social anxiety and The Spoken Word contemplates a war between the spoken word and the written word. In The Folly Of Youth celebrates the adventurous, carefree and sometimes careless spirit of youth.The grand beauty of Museum Piece serves as a gentle interlude, while Shadow On A Tall Tree soars like the sparrows that the song references.

The album’s final two songs are cut from the same cloth, but constructed in very different ways. Aberdeen Vista and What The Hell Is That Noise? were both written about the Baltimore house where Davison grew up. The former is told in a straightforward and sentimental way while the latter is more lyrically abstract and musically dissonant.

All of the musical instruments on The Book of Strongman were played by Davison. The only sound on the album that was not created by Dennis is the white noise feedback that’s heard on What The Hell Is That Noise? This sound was generated by Davison’s lifelong friend Kevin Mackenzie by placing a calculator on top of an AM radio. This was the original sound from a cassette that the boys recorded in 1980 as an experimental duo called Bizarre Trolls. The song’s title sprung from the mouth of Davison’s father. While returning home from work one day, he heard a cacophonous sound emanating from the basement. With Walt Davison’s exclamation of “What the hell is that noise?” the boys knew that they had the song’s title!

The instrumental template for the album is as adventurous as the songs themselves. Mellotron, Monotron, Rhythm Ace, Blipblox and an assortment of analog synths enhance the atmospheric mood, complementing the bass, drums and guitars. Months of listening to Robin’s Reign, Scott Walker and Faust surely helped guide the album in this unique direction.

Dennis is already hard at work on the followup album. Only he knows where the melody goes.”

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