'Onwards And Upwards'
With the release of Forward Motion, Davison/Coleman signals that they're on to something special; a deeply musical expression of sincerity coupled with poignant lyrics, superb performances, and a sparse but lush arrangement style that is beautifully warm and lends a classic and ageless quality to the tracks.
This largely acoustic focused album features the warm clear voice of Lynn Davison (vocals, keyboards) and the exotic sound of the Laud which falls somewhere between a 12-string guitar and mandolin - is often called “magical” – delivered to the listener with virtuosity by Cole Coleman (Laud, guitar, keyboards, vocals). Davison shows her accomplished musicianship with rich, layered vocal arrangements while the duo combines their talents for orchestration.
Forward Motion, the heartfelt labor of love result of over two years of writing and recording, features 11 songs which perfectly reflect the duo's commitment to not only growing creatively, but playing a part in collectively helping our society move forward. Most of the songs have a hopeful tinge to them, addressing various kinds of relationship struggles (romantic and otherwise) and showing that it's possible to break free from the emotional chains of the past.
Having named your band after yourselves, was it always going to be that or were other choices close to coming out on top?! And why not Coleman/Davison instead?! Lynn Davison: "The music really is a synthesis of our individual styles, rather than a ‘concept’ representing a group so Davison/Coleman feels right... and one of us had to be first," she smiles.
Cole Coleman: "I was interested in having a band name at first. But, we intended from the beginning that our music would be focused on both Lynn and I as the featured players – no matter if we perform as a duo or if we expand it to a group of players. So, naming it Davison/Coleman really says that upfront – and it establishes some name recognition for Lynn and I. At the end of the day, it’s the music that defines the name and who you are as an entity. When it comes to which name first… well, to me it honestly rolls off the tongue better as Davison/Coleman and Lynn is actually the principle vocalist though I sing a few songs; and after all, ladies first!"
And with Cole's name Cole Coleman, come on now, that's nearly as trippy as being named Steve Stevens! Have any nicknames originated from having such a double-barreled name, perhaps?! Lynn Davison: "How could you NOT call him Cole?!"
Cole Coleman: "Haha! Yeah, there’s been a few. The one that comes up most often from different people is “Mr. C.” As far back as I remember people have always blinked twice at my name. Then, they’d usually say I was destined for show-biz. I guess they were right."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying the new CD, how would you yourself describe your sound? Lynn Davison: "Organic, uplifting, modern with a medieval flavor, vocal textures and orchestral embellishments, familiar and different… its own category. We’ve had people tell us that they enjoy listening to it while sipping coffee and staring out the window, or to start their day, or on the way to a job interview because it puts them in a positive state of mind. An overall theme of the CD is optimism in the face of adversity."
Cole Coleman: "I’d say, “Joe, do you like acoustic music? Our new CD Forward Motion is our acoustic album. I play a medieval instrument called the Laud throughout the CD which makes it unique – a one-of-a-kind. We’ve kept a contemporary vibe to it and produced it with just a touch of strings and keyboard textures. It’s a great CD to chill to while you drive, have on while you work, or you can focus on it and like producer John Shanks said about it – it will pull you in and take you away on a journey!"”
Was incorporating the sound of the Laud always going to be the instrument of choice here. Please describe the sound of the Laud for our readers and exactly why it was chosen Lynn Davison: "Yes, the CD was created with the Laud in mind, but it wasn’t our original intention. We were actually going to do a rock CD, but the project took on a life of its own when we started actually working with the Laud and we just went with it. It sounds like a cross between a mandolin and a 12-string guitar, very exotic and “magical".”
Cole Coleman: "Yeah, the Laud was always there from the beginning of this album. Lynn and I previously had a full-band. But we wanted to get out to some smaller clubs and do some acoustic shows. I’ve had the Laud for years sitting in a corner and saw it as an opportunity to use it with our music – and do something different on the scene than the usual guitar stuff. People in the audience responded pretty dramatically to it’s sound. Our very first time out at a local performance room, we got a standing ovation. So, as we began to think about recording an acoustic album, I knew I had to write an album’s worth of music with the Laud. And yeah, just as Lynn said – it sounds like the love-child of a 12-string guitar and mandolin!"
If there was one track on this new album that truly encapsulated Davison/Coleman at their current musical and lyrical finest, which one would it be? Lynn Davison: "Tough question – we really feel that every song is special and represents a slightly unique aspect of what we do, but I think I’d say “Castles In the Sand.” Stylistically, it’s a perfect synthesis of everything we do, with a strong message about society’s obsession with materialism. Also, “Our Leaving” is a very universal song, has the signature “Laud” part, the lyric is poignant and uplifting, and the bridge goes through some gorgeous harmonic changes to a climactic ending chorus. It’s the one song that makes people in our audiences cry."
Cole Coleman: "Well, I wouldn’t put it in those terms really. A song is a moment, a snapshot of a mood, an expression, sentiment, thought, or experience. So, to capture us at our finest on this album, you’d have to consider at least several songs to get a range of our musical and lyrical expression. But, what I could say is: if there was only one sentiment, one thought I could give people to carry with them through their lives, then it’s what’s expressed in “Our Leaving.” It has a sweet sadness about it but is also a song of comfort and hope."
Naming your album 'Forward Motion' is interesting, but I'm wondering if it originates from a more personal standpoint for you both, perhaps? Lynn Davison: "Sure, we all go through tough times and it can be really hard to pull out of that negative place, but it’s the challenges in life that get us to the next level, whatever that is… so really, it’s all good… it’s all forward motion."
Cole Coleman: "It’s all Lynn’s doing! She came up with the name for the album and it sounded good to me. It really wraps up together the over-all expression of all the songs collectively."
Your bio mentions that this album took over two years to finally come together. Why the delays? What slowed the work progress down? Lynn Davison: "We did a preliminary recording of five songs and then a year later decided to do a whole CD with a more finished sound. We had to match the older tracks with the newer ones and that was tough. We were VERY selective about every detail of the record. It’s easy to get 80 or even 90% of the way there, but that last 10% is painful! Also, there were some gear issues, in that halfway through the record we realized that we needed a vocal preamp and experimented with four different ones before settling on the Avalon."
Cole Coleman: "This album is the result of a natural progression of events. It’s not like we sat down deliberately to record an album project and then were delayed by this and that. Prior to Forward Motion, Lynn and I had a full-band. But, as we got out on the Los Angeles acoustic scene people began to ask for our music and it felt wrong to be giving them a full-band production of songs they had heard live as acoustic pieces and liked. So, Lynn and I initially recorded a few songs acoustically as an EP to have at our acoustic shows for those who liked it. As time went by, we began to realize there may be an opportunity to do a unique album; a collection of acoustic focused pieces featuring the Laud. So, that’s the point where we decided to record an album’s worth – and then we were delayed by this and that…"
If you could cover, in your unique style, any '80s (possibly cheesy!) pop song, which one would it be ... and why?! Lynn Davison: "I really can’t think of one – I like a lot of 80’s music but nothing jumps out as a re-make. We recorded Cat Steven’s “Moonshadow” because it was perfect for the sound of the “Laud” and I knew we could expand on the vocal arrangement while remaining true to the essence of the song."
Cole Coleman: "Hahaha! You’d like me to say something preposterous wouldn’t you! Something like, “You Got Another Thing Comin’” by Judas Priest; or “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leopard! But seriously, I have heard some amazing and unlikely remakes from artists like “Rocket Man” by Kate Bush (originally Elton John); or the reggae “Baby I Love Your Way” by Big Mountain (originally Peter Frampton) or most recently “Holding Out For A Hero” by Imogen Heap and Guy Sigsworth (originally Bonnie Tyler). So, it can be brilliant if you do the remake just right! So, with that in mind maybe something slightly poignant for us like “Head Over Heels” by Tears For Fears, “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake, or maybe “Blasphemous Rumours” by Depeche Mode. And why? Because if you can pull it off right – it can be brilliant!"
Lastly, I like Penguins ... do you?! Lynn Davison: "Penguins are brilliant... black and white, dark and light, yin and yang, reminding us that there are two sides to every story!!"
Cole Coleman: "There are three things that bother me most in life: politics, classism, and penguins – with their stubby waddling, shifty eyes, and marching! They march you know, for miles and miles… I saw a documentary on it called “The March Of The Penguins.” I think they’re drilling their troops for world conquest," he laughs.
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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