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Dennis Davison - The Book Of Strongman (Pretty Plague)

13 October 2020

The Jigsaw Seen is an outfit which is sadly missed. Although taking a hiatus in 2017, the band left behind a staggering trail of work. They kept that garage-rock torch burning, a sound more equated to beat groups of the sixties, twisted into this 21st century. But luckily this year we have seen a surge in activity from various members. For example, guitarist Jonathan Lea, along with Clem Burke and producer Shel Talmy acted as the makeshift supergroup for ex-*Bee Gee* Vince Melouney single “Women”. Then there is the adventures of this man Dennis Davison. The Jigsaw Scene vocalist who helped create the memorable sound on albums such as the Grammy nominated Zenith, and the magnus opus Old Man Reverb, presents his first solo album The Book Of Strongman

This is something earnest, and refreshingly original. Across ten tracks, Dennis takes the listener on a journey, one which becomes more absorbing on each visit. The songs themselves have a great depth, although not laden down to the extent they require work, or stifle the enjoyment. Opening with the distorted swell of “Strongman And Sonny James”, the album begins with an energy that is relentless. Dennis is firing every bit of passion he can muster into the dramatic vocals and wall of ether he has constructed. Indeed, playing all the instruments throughout, this is a man in full control of his talent. Then he meticulously ups the ante into the sixties-banger “Shadow On A Tall Tree”, which twists with an addictive back beat, an uplifting chorus and a phased vocal. 

Further you go into the album, the sounds become more wondrous, such as the acoustic “In The Folly Of Youth”. An air of folk blends with guitar cranks to create a magical atmosphere. Which then falls into a bed of electronic beats with “Museum Piece”. A song that is a transcendent curiosity, reflecting the humanity which runs thematically through The Book Of Strongman. The addictive submerged sounds of “Can You Imagine?” is wildly creative, fueled by imagination and emotions, combining to create a wholesome mid point. 

“Heaven Bound” tips a hat to the eighties. A very nostalgic approach, that echoes of familiar sounds within an original framework. With a draw of breath the acoustic “Heaven Bound” gives a stark glimpse into the songwriting prowess of Dennis Davison. Following with some electronic noise courtesy of “Auras”. A yin and yang which the musician can execute stylishly as he skips through methods and styles. Furthermore displayed in the exquisite, stripped back and playfully honest “Aberdeen Vista”. A poignant, perhaps autobiographical piece, and with sweeping elements of sound woven into its texture, it becomes an abstract piece of class. 

Closing with a bit of metal machine music with “What The Hell Is That Noise?”, before it turns direction and distant vocals fight to be heard between drones. An enjoyable unique finale which ends this adventure on the same tangent of experimentation as what began the album. Make no mistake however, as albums go, this is sonically fulfilling, and something that deserves investigation. The Book Of Strongman is not a Jigsaw Seen album, although it is an extension of what makes that band so special. For fans it will quench the thirst for new music, for those new to that band, Dennis is the gatekeeper to a magnificent body of work to explore. 

1.Strongman And Sonny James 
2.Shadow On A Tall Tree 
3.In The Folly Of Youth 
4.Museum Piece 
5.Can You Imagine? 
6.Heaven Bound 
7.The Spoken Word 
9.Aberdeen Vista 
10.What The Hell Is That Noise?

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