Dave Davison, frontman of one of the most eccentrically addictive musical acts of the decade, released his creative juices full-bore on the first EP of his solo project Bright Works and Baton . At the time, Maps and Atlases had only released a couple of EPs, likely on their way to recording the impeccable Perch Patchwork . I had initially missed this release, discovering its quirky loveability only a few weeks ago.
By no means should Cast Spells be construed as a diet version of M&A. Davidson’s characteristic warble is alive and well, adding a timbre that is virtually impossible to replicate. In fact, Cast Spells doesn’t deviate too far from the quirk of M&A, but highlights Davidson’s folk subtleties over the complex instrumentation and composition found in previous and subsequent M&A records.
That’s not to say Cast Spells is musically simplistic. Instrumentation is actually quite varied and grandiose, and unexpected changes in time signature give the EP a fresh perspective on the folk genre. Sauntering along at its own relaxed pace, BWaB simply has nothing to prove.
The lyrics exhibit Davidson’s trademark bite, handling a wide range of subject matter (from the obscure to mower blades to sour relationships) with a whimsically comical quality. Of course, they’re delivered by one of the most identifiable voices in music (of what I listen to, anyway).
What’s most memorable about his work, however, is Davidson’s ability to make it seem like he doesn’t know what he’s doing. On first listen, lyrics and composition can sound as though they were made up on the spot, but never sound forced or contrived. Whether this is purposeful or not, I’m not sure, but it undoubtedly provides for some entertaining listens.
On its own, Cast Spells allows Davidson to spread out and breathe – a goal that side-projects are formed to achieve, but very rarely do. Instead of forsaking the sound that makes M&A so enjoyable, BWaB capitalizes on it. It truly provides some of the most unparallelled sounds available, even if it is a few years old.