Elise Davis's Debut Country Album 'The Token' Puts Gender and Love Toe-to-Toe

The album is a neo-country, soulful look at the dynamics of love, power, and success in America.

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Sep 6 2016, 2:30pm


Photo by Gregg Roth

Elise Davis’s debut country record is devastating. Her voice is a pained monotone, one you’ll recognize as the voice of someone deep in the well of despair in which they just can’t escape. Throughout the album, Davis sings about her desire for a sensible balance between having unrequited love and having a successful life. She wants nothing more than the romance of the American Dream—and someone with whom to share that dream. Like Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves, she brings a soulful, rock-like spunk to a genre that sorely needs it.

"Making this record was one of the coolest experiences of my life to date," Davis told me over email.

"I flew to Maine, met my producer and band in person for the first time. I spent ten days in a studio surrounded by woods, nothing but snow and trees through windows while we tracked. We would wake up, eat together, record all day, drink whiskey and record all night. There was no phone reception, just these incredible musicians and my songs.

At this point in time, I'm more self-aware than ever. The life I want to live is looking much different than what I always thought when growing up in the south. When I was young, the path was going to college, getting married and having children. In that sense, The Token is a sort of diary, a collection of stories/feelings centered on the friction between a more modern path against that of a traditional sort. It's on my mind often. The record also speaks to females being in more control than they are given credit for in many instances across the human spectrum. And that's not a matter of body. It's a matter of prowess."

The Little Rock, Arkansas native's music is a beautiful mix of Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves with just a touch of the psychedelic. The album, produced by Sam Kassrier (who also produced Josh Ritter, and Langhorne Slim), features Josh Kaufman on guitar, Bradley Cook on bass, and Matt McCaughan on drums. This is her first record, out Sept 9 on Make the Kill Records/Thirty Tigers.

Listen to The Token below, and preorder her album here.

Annalise Domenighini is on Twitter.