Elise Davis mixes love songs and existentialism on “Anxious”. Happy. Coldness.’


Elise Davis and her husband Jason Morant smoked many of grass during their honeymoon. In the middle of the Sonoran Desert, they decided to light up and write. As Davis worked on what would become his third studio album, Anxious. Happy. Coldness., Morant was busy polishing a new script. As creative, energetic and loving as they felt, a strangeness filled the air. “It was weird because the pandemic was happening as we watched it unfold on the news,” Davis says.

Morant and Davis tied the knot on March 7, and nine days later the world had come to a standstill. “Everyone jokes that my wedding was the last time we knew life without a mask,” Davis told American Songwriter in a recent phone call. “By the time we were at the airport on the way back to Nashville, people were wearing them. It was so weird at first.”

Despite strict lockdown restrictions, Davis had already solidified her plans to enter the studio and by taking the necessary precautions, including mask-wearing and social distancing, the creative process took a big left turn. “I had more than enough songs before the pandemic, but I just had some more that I wanted to finish writing, so I had a bigger batch to choose from. We had to restructure the way we recorded it,” she recalls. “We couldn’t bring in a band to rehearse and play the songs together. That’s how I usually like to do it: playing with the band and everyone talking, drinking and hanging out. Of course, that had to change. I didn’t think I didn’t want to do it, but I relied heavily on my producer to figure it out.

Davis also found herself writing from a very different emotional place. On the 10-track project, which drops Friday, April 16, she trades in her long-cultivated lone wolf persona and trades in for a songbird in love ─ but don’t worry, her style of love songs isn’t. not sappy or sticky- soft. Rather, she’s simply a storyteller whose snap vignettes are loud and a bit unruly. “Love songs are one of the hardest things to write. It’s so hard not to feel corny. When you’re in love, it’s so easy to describe how you feel in a way credits,” she says. “You feel like you’re on top of the world and your heart might explode ─ all those love song lines. I never meant to say that stuff.”

The album opener “Lady Bug” is a prime example, a firmly sweet love song that doesn’t really feel like it. “I decided to commit to one person, and I don’t even think about the others anymore. I am happy and satisfied with this choice. But it sounds like a grungy rock song. I really like to combine those two things,” she says.

Then you have “Honeymoon Phase,” written early in her relationship with Morant, which smolders with classic country-rock flame. Everybody tells me that one day these parties will end / They call it the honeymoon phase, she sings, even her phrasing nods to a bygone era and style─almost like a Linda Ronstadt B-side.

“I was having all these feelings that I had never had. I had had so many bandmates over the years who had been married for years and so many close friends who had had very long relationships,” says she, “and the way you get used to people talking about it like ‘oh, yeah, that changes after a year that fades.’ I’ve always been skeptical, in general, of love and successful long-term monogamy It’s definitely worth it even if it’s the honeymoon phase and what everyone said is true. I’m going to pursue this anyway.

But, does the honeymoon phase really exist? “What I went through in that first year that we were together was that I felt like I was on a drug when I wasn’t. I fell in love so hard that I physically felt like I was drugged. It was that overwhelming feeling of being madly in love. It’s definitely not the same now, but that doesn’t mean the love isn’t as strong. It just changes. Now it’s so much deeper in all these other ways.

With “Waves,” Davis uses water imagery to depict the sometimes uncontrollable ebb and flow of her love. His love only comes in waves, she chirps. Co-written with Kent Blazy (Garth Brooks), it’s one of the oldest songs that made the album. In 2013, Davis actually won The Pub Deal, a partnership contest between American Songwriter and Martin Guitars, which awarded him a $20,000 publishing deal, and a co-writing session with Blazy was one. many by-products. “It really changed the course of my life. It was enough money to pay my rent and my bills. I was a salaried songwriter for a few years and grew so much from it.

Anxious. Happy. Coldness., recorded at The Creative Workshop with producer Teddy Morgan, also reads like a statement of intent, especially when it comes to arrangements and slippery musicality. “Coming into the studio, one of the biggest changes for me is that I don’t normally play guitar on my records. I like to lean on all my amazingly talented guitarist friends and studio musicians in town,” says -she. So she took the guitar, and everything changed. “I heard myself more in the recordings. It’s something that I surprisingly really enjoyed and I think from now on I will play a lot more guitar.

The record also weaves together several moments of existential panic with a humorous, yet still emotional brushstroke. She often wonders if the choices she made were the right ones, she sings over a bouncy drum set with “Thirty.”

“Of course you notice things on your body ─ the fine lines. But what I love about getting older is that every year I feel even more myself and more grounded in who I am and who I am. I want to be. I feel like my mind is expanding in a way that makes you see life so differently,” she says. “That song was making fun of me, and it’s really silly to think that 30 years, it’s so old. People are so hard on themselves about turning 30 and what it means when it’s a really cool decade, I think. I am delighted to continue to live my 30 years.

In just two minutes, “Thirty” lands more like an interlude than a full-fledged song. “I was selecting the whole song at first, even when I walked into the studio,” she says. Then she started playing “those big chords for fun” and picking up the tempo a bit. “My guitar wasn’t even perfectly tuned, so it really gives it a grungy feel. It was so private, and I was so comfortable, and it really felt like I was in my room.

Davis closes with “Another Year,” a slow-paced rumination on not just aging, but what the last 12 months have been like. “It’s weird now that we’re kinda getting by and it’s been a full year. I had spent the last 10 years of my life touring, and when I got home I was in serving tables, and those two things were instantly removed. I had thought a lot in the last year about my level of success in life and how I see myself in my personal identity. I was going through all these little existential crises every day like ‘what do I have left?’ and ‘who am I?’ We were often at home and I drank a lot every day.

Davis takes a critical look at her life in a whole new way. Anxious. Happy. Coldness. captures all those little moments, moving erratically from heart-pounding romance to fast-paced, serious angst, and all the while the musician stands firm, bracing himself for the hurricane that is life itself. I guess dying is as natural as being alive, she pushes on “Another Year,” just before the song explodes with clinks of glasses and a bustle noise you’d find at the local pub. “Open another beer,” a chorus of voices yells in unison – offering some hope of what will soon be normal again.

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