What do you get when a 21st Century white boy makes the same exodus as those of his blues idols—leaving Alabama for the big bad lights of Chiraq, um, Chicago?
It could have been a disaster for singer/songwriter/guitarist Voo Davis, but unlike a lot of his blues-rock peers, he never gets tripped up by authenticity. That is, he knows his education came secondhand through classic rock (the blues of the suburban South, never doubt it) and he uses all those stylistic tricks to his advantage. His first two releases were about proving he belonged on that stage.
Now with his third, he’s concentrating on the songs. And swinging for the rafters.
Voo’s vocals don’t sound like much at first, gruff but without a lot of range, but he invests so much emotionally in these 14 (!) meaty originals that you start to feel at home the way he marries Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers’ bark with Rod Stewart’s bite.
Then the details kick in, and even though his lyrical obsessions are pretty standard—the classic blues treatise on the slippery nature of happiness, usually embodied in a nearby woman—his attention to nuance makes them into something much more.
There’s “Find Me a Blackbone,” which uses echo like Hendrix used feedback, the canned and nearly chamber-pop string quartet that turns the pain of “Howling out Your Name” into something redemptive, and the dangerously SoCal soft-rock polish he’s not afraid to apply to “Laughing’ Out Loud.”
He’s still real enough to rock out (the riff of “My Love” is about as crunchy as they come) or let the Piedmont color gentle shuffles like the title track and “Nothing Changed at All.” And if he wanted to divert your attention from the neck of his guitar, Davis has triumphed completely.
It’s only when he rips out a wild solo on every fifth track or so that you remember how he got everyone’s attention in the first place.
Mojolists Review "Vicious Things"
GOLDMINE MUSIC MAGAZINE'S "VT" REVIEW
By Mike Greenblatt
Chicago-via-Alabama guitarist Voo Davis rocks out on “Vicious Things” (Butter & Bacon Records). Nothing on his 2012 A Place For Secrets debut even hints at the ferocity of these grooves.
- See more at: http://www.goldminemag.com/reviews/variations-on-the-blues?
Illinois Entertainer ReVOos "Vicious Things"
Brian “Voo” Davis gets the advantage of melding his Alabama and Chicago upbringings together to produce his brand of passionate Southern-tinged blues rock. Nearly every song on his sophomore effort Vicious Things is overflowing with gritty riffs, soulful harmonica, and Davis’ built-for-the-blues vocals. Opening rockers “One for the Habit, One for the Road” and “Whisper” just beg for all–out foot– stomping and singing along. (voodavis.com)
-Carter Moss Illinois Entertainer
Available from Voo Davis's online store.
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
Voo Davis likes to take him an unusual path to the blues, yes he does. This becomes screamingly clear in the intro section of One for the Habit, One for the Road, the first cut. He and the band craft a burning build-up that explodes into the song proper, kinda like Foghat and West, Bruce & Laing did a coupla times long ago. And when Calvin Conway lets rip on that harp of his, don't stand too close or you're going to come away with badly singed ears. That cat doesn't play by the rules. Then the B-3 steps in as Voo wrangles a mean convoluted gee-tar, and—damn, son!—you're in for a time. 'Course, the boys know how to lay back, too, andPhantom Woman slinks in for several shots of whiskey in a sequin dress as the neon lights come up, Jon Wade switching to a piano as would make Bruce Hornsby jealous, Davis cool as ice, bass and drums punctuating the atmospherics, everyone getting misty-eyed and soulful…until Davis goes nuts in the middle eight. Good God, but that sonofabitch can play! Alvin Lee checked out too early, dammit, 'cause he'd love what's happenin' here.
The engineering job on Vicious Things is highly unusual as well, strangely but brilliantly balanced to squeeze out as raw a tableau as could be wrought without interfering with the often boggling instrumental interplay. I at first was caught at loggerheads but then realized "No, man, that's fucking perfect!" 'cause it's hard as hell to re-create a natural sound in a studio. Musically, even on an acoustic axe, Davis just takes control (Waiting on that Day), and that, too, needs to be wrestled with. What engineer Ben Mumphrey did was re-create exactly what I used to hear at The Whiskey A Go Go in the 70s by bands similar in nature to this one (Pure Food and Drug Act, John Mayall, Madura, etc.), when the going was raucous and zesty.
Everything on Vicious was written by Voo, and his influences range from R.L. Burnside to Jimi Hendrix, so he's much disciplined on the composition side of the house. Nonetheless, once he gets that guitar in his hands, stand back, 'cause boundaries don't exist, and the shades-bedecked gent's a natural wildman. Everthing in his percolating heart comes pouring out hot as lava, wrapping around the room, catching everyone and everything up in its embrace. When that's not happening, he turns to modes like the hard-gospel Big Lie and elsewhere. A couple short instrumentals punctuate the flow of things, but I sure wish he'd let 'em run…not that he needs to, but, dammit!, we need that! But there's a ton of sophistication here that one CD isn't sufficient to showcase, even as overflowing as it is; thus, as soon as you've consumed Vicious, you're hungry for more, and that's a good damn thing.
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BMAN'S BLUES REPORT REVIEW
I have been listening to A Place For Secrets, the most recent release from Voo Davis. Davis has built quite a reputation as a skilled slide player and performer working with Eddie King. After a short hiatus and dealing with some personal issues, Davis teamed up with Producer and multi instrumentalist, Steve Bores.The result of that collaboration is this recording... part introspective, part extrovert... all musical. The release opens with Told Her, showing Davis' capabilities as a songwriter, singer and instrumentalist. His vocals are seductive and his playing tight. Levee and Le Bon Tempe Roule shows the tables turn with Davis on a wide open acoustic slide jam with harp and drums. Home again shows Davis' strength as a balladeer and songwriter. Out Of The Blue shows Davis' abilities to create melodies based on unconventional progressions making the track particularly alluring. Cherokee Chant digs into the raw blues area and is my favorite track on the recording. Raw, delay, great raspy vocal, slide, trick drum rhythm...what's not to like! Crisis is another really strongly written song that is likely to be well publicly received. It is well written and executed with Davis' strong vocals matched with clean slide playing and solid drum backing. Caught You Bleeding Yesterday is a shot of soul and a really strong track with very clean intense guitar soloing. The recording is wrapped up withBeautiful Tattoo, a quiet guitar and vocal ballad. The intentional discord in parts of the melody draw attention to solemn nature of the track. Overall a very enticing recording.