Gavin Davenport - Brief Lives

2010 studio album

Brief Lives - Gavin Davenport

the bright young folk review

Gavin Davenport has an impressive musical CV as a member of Crucible, Hekety and the Glorystrokes among others. Although no stranger to the recording studio, this is his first solo album.

Gavin is a multi-instrumentalist, and as well as his distinctive singing voice, you will hear him play anglo concertina, guitar and cittern. A number of guest musicians also appear on some tracks to add extra depth but it is always Gavin’s singing that takes precedence as he favours a song that tells a story. The subtle instrumentation of the songs enables the story in the song to come to the fore.

The songs on the album are mainly traditional, but Gavin also writes his own material. One surprise inclusion is “Silent Alarm”, described in the sleeve notes as “the closest thing I’ve written to a pop song in a while”. However, it doesn’t seem out of place here, as it is performed a cappella, and with a tune very much in the folk idiom. It is one of two unaccompanied tracks on the album, the other one being the closing track “House Carpenter”.

Another composition is “False Knight” - a poignant reworking of a well-known ballad, commemorating the bravery in World War II of a Canadian soldier, who gave his own life to save others, including Gavin’s own grandfather.

One particularly striking track is the beautifully simple “A Snow White Bird”, from a Dutch folk song. The snow white bird of the title delivers a love letter. Others are more robust in their delivery and subject matter, such as “George Collins” or “Seven Gypsies”.

The album has an interesting selection of songs, covering love, loss, war and adventure and will appeal to those who like their folk music uncomplicated and stripped down.

Shelley Rainey

Released by Hallamshire Traditions in 2010.

1. Two Pretty Boys
2. Jolly Bold Robber
3. A Snow White Bird
4. British Man of War
5. False Knight
6. George Collins
7. Seven Gypsies
8. Silent Alarm
9. Ratcliffe Highway
10. Young Hastings
11. On Board a Ninety-Eight
12. House Carpenter

Gavin Davenport discography