Late last year, Isle of Man artist Davy Knowles released his second solo album The Outsider in collaboration with PledgeMusic. Comprised of eleven official songs and two bonus tracks, the album pays homage to several of Knowles’s influences, from his homeland (“Island Bound”) to Woody Guthrie (bonus track “Pastures of Plenty,” a Guthrie original). Featuring the strong vocals and expert guitar stewardship Knowles gained attention for through performances at popular American festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo, Knowles’s new album shows that, title aside, his music is prized among fans and attractive to new listeners.
The Outsider opens with “Ain’t No Grave,” a Johnny Cash cover that begins with a few shivering notes from Knowles’s guitar as he quietly sings, “Ain’t no grave gonna hold me down.” Thirty seconds in, the song picks up speed and Knowles unleashes the full force of his voice. It’s at this early point in the record that fans who came to Knowles’s music through his first solo record Coming Up for Air or during his brief period with Back Door Slam recognize that he has returned, perhaps even better than before. Several tracks on The Outsider are notable for their creativity: this is not an album that bores listeners with regurgitated licks or familiar vocal howls. Instead, Knowles brings a little of himself into the mix. “Island Bound” is a remarkable number that launches with a playful plucking of notes that sound as full of joy as Knowles does when he recounts experiences of his youth, from his first love to sailing with his father. “Island Bound” is followed by “Catch the Moon,” a track that stands in stark opposition to its predecessor through its fidgeting speed. Though Knowles’s lyrics take a turn for the cliché on “What Doesn’t Kill You,” the album reveals the appeal of Knowles’s raw material on the second bonus track “I Knew She Was a Liar (But I Never Would Have Called Her a Thief).” Following an imaginative interpretation of Guthrie’s “Pastures of Plenty” in which Knowles dismantles the speed of the original and adds power chords, “I Knew She Was a Liar” shows that Knowles is just as good with a resonator guitar as he is when surrounded by effects pedals.
After a successful campaign with PledgeMusic, Knowles released The Outsider independently and made it available on his website. Currently, Knowles is collaborating with DAM Productions on a documentary about his music and influences titled Island Bound, expected out soon.
The Review: 8.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Ain’t No Grave
– Island Bound
– Catch the Moon
– I Knew She Was a Liar (But I Never Would Have Called Her a Thief)
The Big Hit
– Ain’t No Grave
Review by Meghan Roos