Bart Davenport is a classic rock loving dude. His songs on Game Preserve, his second album, are cloaked in the instrumentation and feel of indie pop (parping trumpets, layered acoustic guitars, gentle drums), but their heart is in the '70s singer/songwriter camp. "Bar Code Trees" is pure America with the ringing slide guitar and breathtakingly pure vocal harmonies, "Euphoria or Everyone on Earth is So Beautiful, Even You" is a heady mix of Phil Lynott and Van Morrison with a honking sax, "Summer in Her Hair" is James Taylor vocals over a beautiful chamber pop arrangement, "When You're Sad" is a string-based ballad that bops like Gilbert O'Sullivan at his best, "Intertwine" is a semi-funky CSN-style tune. Elsewhere, Davenport draws inspiration from Belle & Sebastian ("The Saviors"), bossa nova ("Sweetest Game"), and the Free Design (a wonderfully rich and true cover of that band's "My Brother Woody"). It would be easy having read the last couple sentences to write Davenport off as an imitator, and to a certain extent he is. What makes the record work are Davenport's intimate and tender vocals, his songwriting skills, and the clear, crisp, and warm production of the record. Game Preserve becomes more of an homage to the era than a blatant ripoff. Even if it was just that, who cares when it sounds this good.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra