Revolutionary Soul: Derek Davis releases a work of genius for his first ever solo album
It is not often that I encounter an artist that I can’t quite categorize, or even want to. Derek Davis is such an artist. With 28 years of recording and touring, 12 albums, and three bands, he is a legend in rock. Who can forget the machine-gun tempo of “Bad Man Cometh,” the howling metal message of “American Jihad,” or the addictive head banging of “Love Star.” But at the same time, where do you put the sweet melody of “Troubadour” or the acoustic pop sensibilities of “The Promise” – all songs on the same album. Davis is a remarkable musician and his first solo album, Revolutionary Soul continues his tradition of remarkable, not-quite-categorizable music.
In Revolutionary Soul, Davis writes the music, plays all the instruments, and produces most of the songs, further breaking the category boundaries. It’s blues, it’s rock, it’s funk – it is something that incorporates and transcends all of the above. And it is addictive.
Davis is famous for his sharp writing and signature guitar licks, and both are shot through Revolutionary Soul. But the innovative, up-to-the-minute ways in which he uses them feels like the songs are coming from a new band fresh on the scene and skyrocketing to the top of Billboard, not one of rock’s most enduring players. There is a word for a musician who can do all those things, and do them at the highest level of skill and fan satisfaction: genius. Revolutionary Soul is indeed a work of genius.
The album sports an even dozen songs, ranging from the fire-breathing title song, led by Davis’ fiercest voice denouncing the hate in our society. The vocals are carried along with a driving bass riff punctuated by Davis’ guitar solos backed by stripped down, high-tuned drums, all colored with a B3’s angst. It is heavy, but not metal; it is fierce but not ferocious; it is razor sharp, but not bleeding. It is a revolution.
Davis continues the revolution with “Rapture,” led by a funk beat with a Latin flavor grabbing you by the ears as the B3 organ adds urgency and Davies’ stern voice tells you to “make your plans” for the “sweet surrender in this tale of the sexes.” The funk continues with his cover of the Amy Winehouse song, “Valerie” and his own “Think About It” but with a higher energy in the guitar and the drumkit – all in service to Davis’s voice. The environment suddenly changes with “Love and Abuse,” opening with a long guitar special effect and then shifting to a driving bassline scaffolding Davis electric guitar chops in the breakdowns and bridges.
The funk R&B energy carries through the Jimmy Cox blues song, “Nobody Knows You When You Are Down” and then moves to another genre with the heartbreak ballads “Vicious .Heart”- an R&B masterpiece that bleeds into gospel –“King of Fools,” Picture of Love,” and the penultimate song, We are off to psychedelic funk with Davis’ version of Bobby Womack’s “Woman’s Gotta Have It,” built ground up from a high-octane, volume-muted bass line supporting Davis at his most melodic, weaving vocals in and out among guitar riffs. The album wraps up, fittingly, with the self-confessional “All Roads,” tricked out with a funk guitar beat and some of the best solo licks in rock.
Revolutionary Soul condenses Davis’ 28 years of experience, recordings, touring, writing and playing and then adds new flavors. Whether you are rock fan, pop fan, a metal fan or you love funk and blues, Revolutionary Soul will go to the top of your playlist. Pretty damn impressive for a first solo album. But of course, you expect no less from Derek Davis.
Derek Davis http://www.derekdavismusic.com/
Revolutionary Soul, released March 2017. available on iTunes and Spotify