Known for breathing new life into musical compositions of the greats, Steven Davis is now taking that expertise and applying it to more modern fare. Predominantly known for his decades in the big band circuit, performing standards backed by a 17-piece band, Davis is trading in his classic Sinatra sound for something a little more unique. Teaming up with producer / collaborator, Josh Charles, he’s about to unveil a different side of his distinguished career with his appropriately titled album, DEPARTURE. This transition can be likened to Johnny Cash’s celebrated version of Nine Inch Nails “Hurt,” but with a sprinkling of David Bowie Blackstar influence.
The 10-track album, which releases June 2nd, is full of re-imagined and modernized covers of 1980’s hits from Eurythmics, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, and more. Today, Huffington Post has the exclusive premiere of the first track off the album, a hauntingly beautiful rendition of The Church’s smash hit “Under The Milky Way”. Taking a more ‘cinematic’ approach to the arrangement and bringing a modern edge to the production, Davis and Charles came up with their version of the track. “I’ve always been fascinated by the element of mystery in this song, both melodically and lyrically,” explained Davis.
Listen to “Under The Milky Way” HERE.
In his time singing standards, Davis has headlined long residencies at The Rainbow Room and performed on stage with the likes of Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett and Diana Krall, among others. He is constantly in songwriter mode as of the last few years, including a recent cut with John Oates (Hall and Oates). A song he co-wrote and performed, “Sometime Soon,” was used on an episode of the popular CBS series, CRIMINAL MINDS.
After taking a several year leave of absence from the music business, Davis went in the studio to record some demos and “test the water” while exploring some new directions. During those sessions, he suffered a profound vocal bleed – and grappled with the possibility that he might never return to making music professionally. After nearly a year-long period of intense steroid therapy and weeks of forced silence, he was given a clean bill of health. Serendipitously, not long after, he met his producer, manager and collaborator, Josh Charles through a mutual friend who lived in L.A. Davis had lived in Nashville for a while and Charles had recently moved there to work in the Nashville music scene.
“I guess the best things in life happen when you don’t see them coming,” says Davis. “Now I am acutely connected to the idea at this point in my life and career that if something isn’t fun, I’m not going to do it – and I’m having more fun making music than ever before. I feel like the luckiest person around to get to work with so many consummate pros, starting with Josh, whose instincts and musicality instill me with great trust.”
DEPARTURE has a different palette, but Davis is the same man. He is living inside the great lyrics of these songs – leaving the intention unchanged. “If you are singing songs that have been famous over the years, you have to be very respectful, mindful and careful. We try to bring something exciting and new to the song since it has had a life before.” The album’s sonic textures resemble a dreamy Twin Peaks -Westworld soundtrack.
Davis is a man who moves through time, musically, with great ease. His experience brings a confidence to the material in DEPARTURE, his charm brings it warmth and his audible love of what he does makes it a must-hear.