The diversity of the arrangements and the warmth of the analog recordings, done in one or two takes, preserves the back porch intimacy of the project. In doing so Davis manages to create an aural experience that transports the listener out of the familiarity of the daily grind and into a fictional clapboard roadhouse replete with dirt floors and chicken wire, where the heat and humidity are only kept at bay by copious quantities of frosty longneck bottles of Jax.
The title track builds around a simple acoustic guitar intro that, with the addition of mandolin, turns into something of a sweet remembrance of home. Southern writing at its best walks the line between judgment and redemption, considering the wages of sin and the price of salvation with the ghosts of the past always present to make sure the prodigal knows that he will never fully escape the memories of his dark night of the soul. Davis’ vocal delivery conveys the appropriate sense of world-weariness and regret that makes the journey bittersweet. The rasp in his voice betrays the distance between the idyllic southern life and the harshness of its reality. If Hollywood ever gets around to making the defining cinematic portrayal of James Lee Burke’s Cajun detective, Dave Robicheaux, Davis should score the film.
Voo Davis seems to be able to play just about anything he sets his hand to, including acoustic, electric and slide guitars, dobro, mandolin, pedal steel, and piano. There is an abundance of slithery, sinister, greasy licks. Davis’ fretwork is so superb that the listener can only imagine collaborations with the likes of Tedeschi Trucks, or maybe Buddy Guy.
Perhaps two of the best tracks are “Laughing Out Loud,” and “Void.” “Laughing” is a mellow ballad about coping with losing at love and trying to recover. The arrangement is sensitive without being sentimental, self-aware without being self-absorbed. It is about suffering in silence, dying on the inside. The only complaint is that the outro should be another minute or two longer, expanding on the sweet sounds of pain Davis squeezes out of his guitar.
“Void” is the first of two bonus tracks and the immediate impression is of Sam Beam circa “The Creek That Drank the Cradle.” Davis’ vocal on this number emphasizes his country leanings, something that hopefully will be featured more prominently in future releases. This track features Davis playing all the instruments, including a lovely piano break and a shimmering pedal steel that brings to mind endless miles of blacktop melting in the summer heat; the open road beckoning to the pilgrim who knows he will never be able to escape the land of his birth. Midnight Mist is a journey worth taking.