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Elise Davis

The Token – 2016 (Make the Kill/Thirty Tigers)

Reviewed by Andie Burjek

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CDs by Elise Davis

What's very impressive about Elise Davis' "The Token" is how mature it is. Not only do the songs blend in with each other seamlessly, not an outlier in sight to disrupt the story told, but also the lyrics in each song create a clear world. The Little Rock, Ark. native doesn't sing in metaphors and cryptic vocabulary. Her lyrics are observational and simple while still managing to sound musical and poetic.

Her relatable words take you to various places in her town, from the bar, to a boyfriend's kitchen, to the motel, to her apartment, to a local party and back to the bar again. Listeners can practically smell the stale cigarettes in "I Go to Bars and Get Drunk." They can taste the morning bacon and black coffee in "Finally" and the various type of alcohol throughout. "He shows up with whisky and his smile, and that's just my style," she sings in "Benefits." She takes too many shots in "Make the Kill." She drinks more than she'd like to have drunk in "I Like It."

The story told isn't anything new: girl breaks up with boy; girl tries to start anew and hits road blocks along the way. She gets sad. She gets angry. She gets jealous. Davis explores these emotions without making big, dramatic statements, but she also adds a few thoughtful moments as well. In "Not the End of the World," she sings that although she knows this emotional pain isn't the end of the world, it still feels like it. It's self-aware and sad.

Likewise, in "I Just Want Your Love," Davis writes about how she wants something, but falters when she's close to getting it. "I don't know why I keep pulling away from what I'm reaching for," she sings. This, also, is very self-aware and sad, and it's executed well musically.

Elise Davis managed to make an observational album about her town and about, what else, love and make it seen charming, thoughtful and fresh.