Any time spent out of the public eye can be a risky proposition as far as a music career is concerned. And when there’s been an absence of ten years...well, suffice it to say the public’s memory and mindset don’t linger nearly so long.So credit singer/songwriter Kyle Davis with choosing family and sanity even after establishing a successful career that included five albums, the cover of Billboard Magazine and several songs selected for soundtracks for popular TV shows, and shared stages with the likes of Bob Dylan, John Mayer, Shawn Colvin, Blues Traveler, Joe Cocker, ZZ Top, Counting Crows, Hall & Oates, John Prine, Eddie Money, the
Wallflowers, and Sheryl Crow. It wasn’t a decision taken lightly, but rather burnout, life circumstances and the responsibilities that domestic duties demand.
Still, there’s no stopping a restless muse, and following the loss of his father and others close to him, Davis took time for further reflection. He reconciled remorse and change in song. The result was absolutely A Home Run . A record titled Make It Count, his first new recording in a decade, 10 songs that speak to the heart of both the beauty of discovery and disappointment.
It’s a profound record in many ways, not only because it's melodies immediately engage and connect, but because the lyrics speak to everyone who’s ever had reason to pause and consider life circular evolution and the circumstances that have gotten us where we are.
Produced by Scott Lane and Stewart Myers, Make It Count features Daniel Clark on organ, piano, and wirly , Charles Authur on mandolin, acoustic, Carter Gravatt [Carbon Leaf] mandolin, acoustic, pedal steel, Mike Durham and Scott Lane playing electric guitars, drummers John O’Reilly and Pinson Chanselle, and Stewart Myers and Scott Lane on bass. Backing vocals with Kanneka Cook and Scott Lane.
In addition, Davis wrote all 10 tracks, each a rumination on humanity’s fixation with the transient. Things that lead to disconnect, and the myriad of choices we are all forced to face sometimes without the benefit of awareness or maturity that lead us to the answers we seek. It’s a deeply moving record, one that spans a gamut of emotions, from the heartache and happenstance of the title track that says you each chance only comes around once, to the drive and determination of “Not Broken.” There’s the radiance and illumination found in the upward gaze of hope in “Stay With Me” and “Old Habits (Lady Liberty),” as well as the wistful repose that resides in the shimmering, seductive lilt of “Johnny” and “Only You.”
“The inspiration for making this record and renewing my desire to make music lies in the message and essence of the songs themselves,” the Richmond Virginia-based musician suggests. “Needless to say, the entire process has been extremely cathartic. I feel like I’m more equipped that ever to write about the changes and challenges I’ve dealt with in the past. It can be difficult, but as Einstein once said, ‘Life is like a bicycle; to keep your balance you have to keep moving.’ This is my way of doing just that.”
Make It Count represents the second chapter of a career that was nurtured early on. Davis grew
up in a home where music was a constant presence. His grandmother and his aunts played piano and sang gospel songs. His father and brother strummed guitars. As a toddler he would walk around the living room pretending to sing into whatever he pretended was a microphone.
“Ever since I can remember, I’ve felt a deep connection to music,” Davis recalls. “I’d listen to my older brothers records and feel deeply moved by the emotions those artists expressed. I still feel that way.”
That sheer exhilaration spawned a career that netted Davis success early on. He began recording in his early 20s, spawning a string of albums -- Kyle Davis, Waiting For You, Raising
Heroes, Don’t Tell the World, and River City Gang -- that effectively expressed a keen sense
of melody, infectious energy and hooks that sank in quickly and refused to let go. Single “Buried Alive,” released by Sony Records, became both a fan favorite and critical sensation. Billboard magazine called him “One of the best unsigned artists and featured him on the cover.” Rolling Stone gave Raising Heroes four stars. Although he’s been described as a cross between Jackson Browne, David Gray, Peter Gabriel and Mat Kearney, he remained his own man, a singular talent with an extraordinary gift for conveying sentiments that are impossible to deny and even more difficult to resist.
He eventually came to the attention of Sony Records and producers Phil Ramone via Don Dixon, two men whose reputations ranks high on the music business pantheon. Dixon produced R.E.M., the Smithereens, Marshall Crenshaw, and Tommy Keene, among many. Ramone’s accomplishments were even more legendary, given that he counted among his clients Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and Billy Joel, Paul Simon. After driving to Bedford NY to Ramone’s house and playing for him in his living room, Ramone said, “I can't say you’re going to be a huge star but I said we’re going to make a great record and we certainly did.”
These days, Davis is more eager than ever to rekindle his career, and still inspired by his love of music and a desire to reconnect. “The industry’s changed considerably,” he muses. “For that matter, we live in a different world as well. But the one thing that remains the same is my desire to share meaning through my music through what these songs have to say and hopefully find that common bond that connects us all.”