If you’re struggling to place the name, it’s possible that you know Manxman Davy Knowles from his band Back Door Slam, which released a slew of albums and EPs between 2007 and 2009. Knowles released some more recordings with a different band under the name Davy Knowles and Back Door Slam, and then went full solo for a couple more albums starting in 2014. His most recent releases have been the 2017 acoustic EP 1932, named for the year of the vintage National guitar featured on the set, and the Best Of The Bootlegs album from the same year. This new release, the aptly-titled What Happens Next, is his first on Mascot’s bluesy Provogue imprint, and represents something of a departure for him, as it concentrates more on the singer/songwriter side of things, rather than on flash guitar work. The sound is notably retro, with distorted guitars and spacey but subtle organ sounds. It’s heavy pop, or light rock if you will, fairly restrained and downbeat for the most part, right from the first number Light Of The Moon – featured in the video at the foot of this page – with the album packaging deliberately playing into the retro feel. The guitars are treated to a tremolo effect here and there as well, such as on the end-of-evening blues ballad Roll Me, which also features some mellow electric piano, and the slow rock number Devil And The Deep Blue Sea.
Solid Ground starts with an up-tempo but sparse backing that puts me in mind of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, before building up to a great solo featuring two backward-recorded guitars! It’s an interesting effect that works really well in this song, but the real highlights are saved for the back end of the album. It’s only when the penultimate number kicks in, the jauntily-titled Wake Me Up When The Nightmare Is Over, that you realise what this album has been missing – an up-tempo, major key, melodic piece with rocky guitar riffage and some nice piano backing, which lifts the whole set in my view. But even that is put in the shade by the final number, the deftly fingerpicked acoustic guitar ballad If I Ever Meet My Maker, which Knowles wrote as a tribute to his late father. It’s about as emotionally charged as it’s possible to get, a genuinely moving homage, but still manages to be light and airily melodic at the same time.
The whole set clocks in at 12 songs and about 47 minutes, which vinyl aficionados will recognise as about the most you could have got on an LP before having to close-track the grooves. It seems to be made for vinyl to these ears; you can almost hear the crackling as soon as you look at the cover, and indeed it is available in LP format as well as CD and digital download for the kids.
hat Happens Next by Davy Knowles is set for release on 22nd October 2021 via Provogue