It’s not hard to catch the influence of Dwight Yoakam on Moot Davis’ latest, Seven Cities Of Gold. Like Yoakam, Davis plays an unusual brand of country that manages to sound remarkably unique and refreshingly familiar at the same time. They also share a familiar, hard to miss baritone. But far from being just another Yoakam acolyte, Davis builds on that influence with a diverse sound that at times draws in haunting gothic imagery and other times pulls in blistering rock guitar (especially on the hard to ignore title track) for a sound and style that is all over the Country/Roots map, dipping into classic rock territory at times.
Like his 2017 record, the New Jersey native co-produced Seven Cities Of Gold with his longtime drummer Blake Oswald and engineer Jody Sappington. The trio adds in liberal amounts of pedal steel and organ throughout. The album opens on the steady rocking “Hey Hey,” with the organ and guitar trading off licks throughout, before drifting into the twangy “Lassoed And Lost,” a brief but memorable traditional-sounding track. Davis also deftly handles one of Willie Nelson’s first hits, “Crazy,” completely remaking the classic in his own style. It’s on the title track though (not to be confused by the Rush song by the same name) where Davis really broadens expectations and shows he is so much more than just another great country crooner, starting the song off with an ominous Sabbath-worthy guitar lick that morphs into a searing nearly five-minute-long psychedelic sludge rock dark fantasy. Unlike anything Davis has recorded before, it makes sense he would use this song as the album title. It’s also no wonder his music has appeared in dozens of movies and shows over the past couple of decades.
Elsewhere on the brighter “California” (one of the best songs on an already great record) and “Interstate Girl,” Davis sings in a more familiar country/boogie woogie style, that is musically on the other side of the spectrum to “Seven Cities Of Gold,” but just as compelling. Like Yoakam before him, Davis is a clearly a traditionalist not afraid to start his own traditions.
Photo: David McClister