It's always a thrill to celebrate a relative newcoming on the showbiz scene at a Broadway at Birdland concert, and this Monday was just that kind of night! Composer/lyricist Scott Evan Davis hasn't been writing long, but has already amassed a loyal fan base for his wonderful theater songs! And what a cast of dazzlers he brought to sing those songs! Liz Callaway (left, with Scott) thrilled the house with her crystal vocals, as did Julie Reyburn, Natalie Douglas, Ellyn Marie Marsh, Joshua Dixon, Stephanie Gibson Chase, William Blake and Nicole Johndrow. We're looking forward to hearing much more from Scott, especially his upcoming musical about children's pageants, Glitz!
JIM CARUSO - CAST PARTY
Aside from his innate intelligence, Davis writes with emotional insight and a sensitivity that sets him apart. One of the best examples of this is "Save Me the Rose," a beauty, performed here by Karen Mason (produced by Paul Rolnick), "… I see you in every thing/The winters are much too cold… I'll make new friends/maybe live near the sea." Such aching heartbreak offers a hopeful message of moving on. This is typical of Davis' natural passion for the emotion that comes with loss. The same goes for "Someone Else's Eyes" sung by Robert Cuccioli. Again, a lost love is explored with a positive awareness that is palpable. This is Davis' calling card in nuanced matters of the heart.
A keen observer of human experience and how we process it, Mr. Davis delves deeply, with dimension and diversity. Lucky are the artists given such rich material to mine.
Scott Evan Davis is relatively new at songwriting—four years in. A showcase of his songs is impressive considering his recent arrival to the scene. But at 54 Below, on September 23rd, 14 very gifted singers showed up to perform his material and were obviously delighted to be there. The writing is ambitious, the melodies promising; but the talent and clear intention of Davis, to veer on the side of character and relationship, makes it a singer's delight.
Like contemporary musical storytellers cut from the mold of say John Bucchino, David Friedman and Stephen Schwartz, the songs of Scott Evan Davis are catching on like fire in cabaret circles. With this debut album, Davis has enlisted the help of some of cabaret and Broadway's most popular habitants to present an album that is so polished, intelligent and, quite simply, an emotional winner. Ironically, thanks to the cast he's assembled, it rather sounds a bit like a night at Jim Caruso's Cast Party with so many regulars on hand. That aside, the cleverly titled opener, "Cautiously Optimistic," perfectly sung here by Julie Reyburn, sets the stage for the pensive, sometimes sardonic songs on this quite versatile disc that is sure to get attention. Each song is invigorated with a passion that is compelling.
Scott Evan Davis' debut disc, Cautiously Optimistic, slipped past me when it was released last December but I won't make that mistake again. Filled with lush melodies and complex lyrics, Davis' songs, sung here by an impressive roster of performers including Liz Callaway, Julie Reyburn, Faith Prince, Lisa Howard, Jason Graae and more, signals that a potentially important new songwriter has arrived on the scene.
Songwriter Davis has an ear for the classical in his melodies and one for the edginess of the contemporary in his lyrics, and these two seemingly contradictory aspects of his music collide with remarkable ease in the 12 songs on this disc. Davis has attracted some A-list talent, including Faith Prince and Joshua Dixon for "Walk a Little Slower," an enchanting duet about the support mothers and sons can give one another; and Lisa Howard, who finds the pain in the wryly amusing "He's Perfect," about a woman rationalizing about the man she's choosing to marry.
ANDY PROBST - THEATREMANIA.COM
When it comes to contemporary songwriting, the obstreperously sizable squad who complain that "they don't write 'em like they used to" have got it seriously wrong. The bracing truth is that they do write 'em very much as the outstanding pop songwriters of the mid-20th century used to.... Prominent among them are Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk, Lance Horne, Sam Davis, Michael Patrick Walker, Scott Evan Davis, Georgia Stitt.
Scott Evan Davis, Cautiously Optimistic (Sonic Landscapes Music): At the same time as Davis's melodies seem to be adventuring in all directions, they're tightly constructed. It's a paradox that renders the CD's title tune, as sung by the fervent Julie Reyburn, compelling. A sub-theme among the songs is parent-child relationships. Of the 12 tracks, the most ready to fly is probably "Ready to Fly." Like many of the writers today, Davis has the pipes for his own canon -- and not just because songwriters are often their best interpreters. His CD-closing "I Am," about the gift of acceptance, is a bona fide winner.
DAVID FINKLE - HUFFINGTON POST
Several weeks ago, after a tasty dinner at Birdland with my fellow reviewer and friend Sue Matsuki, I sat back to hear some songs composed by a fellow I'd only heard of in passing and whose music I didn't know - at all. I noticed that he did attract a very impressive roster of singers to perform his songs, but still - what could this young, handsome musical stranger possibly bring to the party?
Well, he brought Sturm und Drang - set to terrific melodies. Scott Evan Davis' music is complex and adult. It's exciting and dramatic and takes you to places you didn't expect to go, a journey through sophisticated meter, melody and lyric. And big voices are required. Others need not apply. These songs are ultra-rangy with big climaxes and high notes to spare, tunes written for the current crop of big Broadway belters.
This is smart music that taps into some very deep emotional wells. Many of the lyrics give the impression of moving forward, of acceptance - but also reveal sadness, anger and disillusionment. (There's definitely a theme here). Davis seems to open himself up - complete with heart on sleeve and guts exposed.
Mr. Davis took to the microphone to sing the final song of the evening, "I Am," and proved himself to be a winning performer, at home with the rest of the more established singers with whom he shared the stage. These singers probably sensed that they were getting in on the ground floor with a composer whose career may well soar - and many in the audience sensed the same thing - including myself.
MONA FINSTON - CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE
My friend Gerry Geddes shot me an e-mail the afternoon of this show saying that Scott was someone to hear. Since I was already going to be at the show I reviewed above, I decided to stay because I have always trusted Gerry's judgement and taste ... WOW! This was a double-header night to write about .. and I am so happy about that!
I predeict that Scott Evan Davis will have a show on Broadway in 10 years time (5 if he makes the right connections). He himself is a lovely, sweet man and a fine singer who told us the most wonderful stories of how songwriting literally just came to him. If he can write a script as well as he can write music, this IS the Broadway show he should write. There were funny tunes and heartfelt tuns and love songs and after-love songs but they all had the same thread of being tunes with very human, every day, "I've been there" emotions. Sister with Sister "Relative Speaking", Mother to Son "Walk A Little Slower", Boyfriend to Girlfriend "There's Nothing I Can Say" - all relationships seemed to be explored. There was one highlight after another and with only 11 tunes in the show, Scott's stories on how the songs came to be because equally as compelled as his tunes making it just a wonderful night of Cabaret with show tunes featured.