A Big Do-Over

Andrea Davidson
Retracing Steps (Independent)

By Tim Roberts

Unfortunately, when you're a musician you always risk dropping a stink bomb on your audience. It can happen anytime in a career. But when you admit that your first effort was a hurried-through mess that you wanted to just get into peoples' hands, and that you now think every copy should be land-filled or treated like nuclear waste, you can either use it as a crutch to hinder any aspirations you might have had, or you can use it as a chance to call a do-over, to find where you tumbled or just where you need to tweak.

Louisville singer-songwriter Andrea Davidson called a do-over on herself. In her LMN cover story last year, Davidson claimed her debut effort, Pick Your Poison, made her cringe. And now by being her own harshest critic and best cheerleader, we get her latest release, appropriately titled Retracing Steps a dozen tunes of varying styles that truly showcase her big-as-a-blue-sky vocals and intricate songwriting talent.

Things kick off with the saucy cabaret stylings of the title track (muted trumpets, trombone, saxophone, tuba, brush drums, and all that's missing is an introduction by emcee Joel Grey: "Meine Dammen und Herren, la chanteuse de America Fraulein Andrea Davidson!"), then a segue into a touch of Bluegrass with "It Will Come" that's followed by the rainy-day solo acoustic blues of "Too Fixed to Fight." Later, there's a smoking alt-country selection called "Leave," and "Sun in Georgia," a pining, tender love ballad.

For her do-over, Davidson has pulled in some stellar Louisville music talent, including Paul Culligan, Justin Shaw, Dave Chandler, Steve Cooley, Peter Searcy, Emily Caudill, Maurice Hamilton and several others. The entire production was engineered by Brian Cronin, and co-produced by Cronin and Davidson.

To be sure, musicians are never entirely satisfied with their work. There's always one song that could have been done better in one more take, a vocal track that's not entirely balanced with another instrument, or there are entire albums that they think need to be not just shoved under the rug, but buried under the foundation. Of course, there's always the next album to make things right, and done in a way where the performers present the true musicianship they're capable of.

Just what Andrea Davidson gives us in Retracing Steps.

Davidson's music can be heard at www.myspace.com/andreadavidson. You know what to do.