Compass Records (label)
02 August 2019 (released)
01 August 2019
Davina and the Vagabonds are not yet household names, but given the strength of their debut studio release, they soon will be. Having appeared on Jools Holland a few years ago, the group are not newcomers. The jazz/soul/Americana fusionists have for a long-time been working the live circuit, and thrown out a few live recordings during their nearly decade and a half long performance career, but it is in adapting their sound for a recorded medium that sees them positioned as mainstream contenders.
Does that mean that their long-awaited debut, Sugar Drops, abandons their more left-of-centre origins? To some degree, it does, but their loyal fanbase need not worry - this is not a complete re-imagining, it is just a slight redirection. Clearly having garnered the attention of their record label through their riotous live reputation, the band have found a happy middle ground of needing poppier cuts for radio release, while simultaneously not losing the experimental fusion explosions that have made their live recordings and live shows so unforgettable.
Having already released the addictive Little Miss Moonshine and channeled the late Amy Winehouse with a touch of Alicia Keys' soul on I Can't Believe It Let You Go, it is with their latest single Devil Horns that the group show that they are not just a commercial entity. Although the song is a must-listen, it is far more 20s dance room fodder than it is contemporary radio feed. even if it has an echo of the timelessly cheesy Dance The Night Away (The Mavericks). It is with these more nostalgic numbers that Davina and Vagabonds separate themselves from the likes of Caro Emerald to shine as a more authentic alternative.
While Sugar Drops can at times be a little saccharine, it is a striking debut.