If you’re keen on new indie music, then the odds are that you’ve probably already heard of Derrick Davis, or at the bare minimum, the reputation that he’s been building around the Austin music scene. In his latest record Anti-Social, Davis belts out such stunners as “All I Need to Know,” “Life of the Party,” “Carry Me” and “Blow Song,” only to demonstrate just how wickedly talented he is at cultivating simple songs into full-blown alternative anthems drenched in a rich R&B melodicism. His sound is his own, and he’s proving to be one of the most original composers in his peer group in these ten vivacious tracks.
There’s plenty of pop polish present in Anti-Social, but none of Davis’ God-given tonality is sacrificed in attaining the urban stylization of the music at all. Jazzy numbers like “Hunter,” “Best I Can” and “Livin” push the boundaries of the status quo to the very limit, imparting emotional narratives while also leaving a cratering impression with their riling rhythms that is just as genuine and evocative. Davis lets his vocal soar as high as it can in “All I Need to Know” and the surreal “End of Days,” but he never overshoots the mark in an attempt to exceed his own ambitions as a singer.
“Clark Kent” and “Light It Up” summarize Derrick Davis’ style better than anything I’ve ever heard him record before. “Clark Kent” is stripped down and calculated, while “Light It Up” is fast, furious and outfitted with a bassline that could move mountains at the right volume, but the approach to songwriting is relatively the same. Davis grabs us right from the start using a commanding instrumental lick, and then plies the melody with a limber lyricism that potently colorizes the music and makes us feel like he’s singing directly to us and no one else.
All of the songs that are found in Anti-Social sound like singles, to such an extent that you probably could have told me that this was a “Best Of” compilation and I would have believed you. There’s no filler to be skipped over, and despite the fact that the mood can shift on a dime between songs (the transition between the thoughtful “Life of the Party” and the ripping “Light It Up” immediately comes to mind), the flow of the album never becomes fractured or inconsistent. In that respect, not only is this a musical melting pot broken into ten touching tracks, it’s an epic foray into the heart and soul of a songwriter unbound to the populist trends of the moment. Derrick Davis is certainly on the more experimental side of the Austin sound, but don’t let his burgeoning eccentricities fool you – he’s as focused a performer as I’ve heard in the last decade, and if you ask me, even his most talented rivals don’t even come close to eclipsing the enduring, unvarnished artistry that he shells out in spades on Anti-Social. I’ll be keeping a close eye on his camp moving forward, and if you care as much about indie rock as I do, then I think you should, too.
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