Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Patrick Stolley
The one and - it seemed to us at the time - only thing that Shenandoah Davis wanted to do at the completion of this session, was find a bowling alley. It was early in the day, still just after the noontime hour - a time of day when no one would be in such a place - and she was hankering to roll some frames. We're not going to say that it's the last thing that you'd think the Seattle, Washington, songwriter would be wanting to do - after hearing her antique-y music, but it's damned close. You'd hear "Separate Houses" or "We; Camera" and you'd bet the farm on her being a crafter, someone who would just retreat somewhere to get some crocheting in before the show that night, or someone who would be seeking out a farmer's market or a health food store for some vegan options. These are such easy and trite things to think that you hear about something, just based on the music they play, but they are the things that float into the mind nonetheless. There's such a nice botanical garden just across the river from us. It seems like that would have been a nice place for her to visit, but she wanted to go bowling and that's what she did. Then she got to the coffeehouse/club and drank a thousand cups, planning for the lack of sleep that she was going to get that night getting to the next city.
Davis marks her songs with old-time sounds and giving us the kinds of stories that are found tucked into yellowed books, on folded notes or out of black and white cinematic relics. Many times, in listening, you think that she's brought to audibility the tales that were perhaps written into the silent pictures of bygone years. Instead of reading the subtitles about the bank robbers, the lusty dame or the hero as he'll be in the final scene, you're getting a richer story, full of the bric-a-brac of daily lives and the morsels of specifics that wouldn't have had any place in that bare language on the screen. We hear these songs as old music boxes that have sprung back to life, offering these forgotten stories of people long ago dead, though there's no evidence that they're gone or ever really did exist. They are just the operatic moments, when we blurt something pretty out, when we realize that we might have a prettier voice than we thought, when we just might be living something good, or fascinating. Of course, this is really just the bowler, the delicate songstress of Davis, opening our ears to the trees, the blossoms and so much more.