Haydn Davis is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist based in Wellington, New Zealand. Before moving there, he played with the band Big Fish in the UK as bassist and songwriter. His debut Memory Miles is a six-track EP mixing indie rock/pop, with folk-influenced acoustic guitar and more contemplative jazz-influenced piano. Recorded, mixed and mastered in Davies’ home studio using Cakewalk by Bandlab.
On the opening track, "Shine Your Light on Me" Davies was going for a mid-‘90s style Brit pop, jangly guitar sound, but he also gives a nod to late ‘80s The Smiths. I think he achieved both sounds and styles perfectly – Morrissey watch your back! I’m already feeling nostalgic for this period in music history – where’s my Smiths albums? On "Round to My Way" Davies wanted to write something lyrically like Beck's “Loser” or Tom Waits' “Clap Hands” then back it up by using some hypnotic drums, bass and acoustic guitar. I think on this tune, Davies tapped into the Brit pop harmonies and melodies of the ‘90s quite well, a la Oasis (minus the swaggering, bad boy attitude of Liam Gallagher). Lyrically, not sure if this reads as a love song, or what?
The beginning to “Head Over Heels” made me think of Elvis Costello in a way. This one definitely has a romantic, nostalgic feel to it. I felt Davies didn’t pull any punches on this number. The melody and instrumentation are simply beautiful, too. Starting off with sounds of rain is "And The Bridge Come Down" – a song Davies co-wrote with Craig Osment. He calls it “a grammatically challenged song.” It has roots in the folky, acoustic Celtic tradition, but doesn’t have an obvious old-world sound to it – like say, The Chieftains have. Davies’ voice sounds like a young Pete Townsend perhaps, and I thought his singer/songwriter talent really shines through here as well. I also liked how the progression built up slowly with additional instrumentation coming in, reaching a climax. This one would be a great one to see live (post-COVID, or course), where someday we won’t have to worry about being socially distanced.
Davies describes "Mona Lisa" as a song that begins with a simple piano riff (think REM's “Night Swimming”), then building and morphing to a crescendo, though the song doesn't have a traditional verse/pre-chorus/chorus structure. This one had the feel of a Smiths ballad-like song and takes on some of the structures of a classic Smiths number. (But knowing Morrissey, he would have frowned upon the use of a mandolin and synths, as least in his early days). Davies puts both of those instruments in here and he did a fantastic job! Sometimes when you hear a new song, your mind gets triggered and thinks “wow, that song reminds me exactly of….” that one other song, or that band, but you can’t remember the names of either of them. That’s what happened to me after listening to “Blind (The Red Balloon).” The words to the song suggest falling deeply in love with someone as if you are “blinded” by the intense emotions you’re feeling. Another brilliant song overall and Davies last, not to mention shortest tune.
In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed this EP and I look forward to hearing more.
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