When a band has master wordsmiths like David Berman and Jerry David DeCicca praising its lyrics, you take note. When that same band has recruited long lost singer-songwriter Edith Frost to contribute vocals and piano to its latest LP, you practically have no choice but to pay attention. State Champion’s Send Flowers delivers on these enticements — and then some.
Each of the album’s seven songs are total gems, packed with thrift store wisdom and woozy wistfulness (all tempered with a healthy dose of winning wise-assery). Songwriter Ryan Davis has a keen eye for the odd detail that transforms the mundane into the magical; it’s definitely Berman-esque, though you could throw in other comparisons to James Jackson Toth or even John Prine. He’s the rare kind of lyricist who keeps your attention from line to line, wondering where he’s headed — towards a hilarious punchline or a heartbreaking revelation? Or both?
The words aren’t the only attraction though. Davis’ band is killer, too, with chunky riffs, lonesome pedal steel and droning violin providing a steady, hook-filled backdrop. And Frost’s guest starring role is terrific. Check out the marvelously moody “Legends of Miami Bass,” which sees her duetting with Davis over a slow burn groove. Perfect. words / t wilcox