Album Review

Gail Davies - Self-Titled

Gail Davies - self-titled

Gail Davies made history in the late 1970s as the first woman in Nashville to produce her own (or anyone's) records, but that came after her 1978 self-titled debut, originally released on the CBS-distributed Lifesong label. "I had a bad experience with the first producer that I did [this] album with...so I decided I would never go in the studio with another producer, and I never have," she told Grant Alden last year (ND #33). That casts a serious, if retrospective, shadow on the project, but if you can get past it, there's some pretty good music here. Davies was (and remains) a fine singer, with a distinctive voice and a wide dynamic range. Though she was a bold interpreter of songs by others -- she scored her first Top 40 hits with two of the three covers here, Webb Pierce's "No Love Have I" (written by Mel Tillis) and Johnny & Jack's "Poison Love" -- Davies was also a solid writer, with sole credit on the seven remaining selections. These include her first big hit, "Someone Is Looking For Someone Like You", as well as "Grandma's Song" and "Bucket To The South", both of which she would revisit later in her career. The album's strengths are offset by some heavy-handed and frequently dated production -- particularly on "No Love Have I", a useful reminder that even backward-looking late '70s country was very much a product of its era -- and many listeners will likely find the autobiographical sweetness of "Grandma's Song" and "Soft Spoken Man" a bit cloying. Davies would rein in those tendencies on The Game, her Warner Bros. debut (a prime candidate for reissue, as is her mid-'80s country-rock diversion Wild Choir), but even so, this album signaled the arrival of a major talent.