Martha Davis

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Policy Review

by Alex Henderson

Given how popular the Motels were in the '80s, Martha Davis should have been big as a solo artist. But Policy, the singer's first solo album, wasn't the major hit it deserved to be, which is surprising because Policy isn't a radical departure from her work with the Motels. Produced by Richie Zito, Policy picks up where the Motels' final album, Shock, leaves off. Davis wrote or co-wrote most of the material, and true to form, her lyrics tend to be dark and ominous -- or at least melancholy. Arguably, the Motels were a pop/rock version of film noir; their view of the world was as dark and cynical as any Raymond Chandler thriller of the '40s. And Davis' obsession with the dark side didn't end when the Motels broke up and she went solo; the haunting "Lust," the brooding "Rebecca," and other gems that she wrote or co-wrote for Policy are as dark as any of the songs on the Motels' five albums. Especially disturbing is "What Money Might Find," which takes a look at the uglier side of prostitution -- not upscale call girls (whose profession should be legal), but kids who work the streets. Davis was never one to provide an abundance of happy endings, and on Policy, happy endings are few and far between. However, she surprises us on the album's last track, "My Promise," which describes a romantic relationship that is happy and fulfilling -- not dysfunctional. The tune has a sweetly romantic quality, and it is certainly an interesting way for Davis to conclude the album; after so much darkness, melancholia, and disillusionment, she gives us something sweetly romantic. And it works. Anyone who savored the Motels' five albums will also find a lot to admire about Policy.

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