Click here to return to the main site.

Music Review

Cover Image

Sugar Drops


Artist: Davina and the Vagabonds
Label: Redhouse Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 19 July 2019

Red House Records announce the release of Sugar Drops, the first album for the label from Davina and the Vagabonds. The album saw Minneapolis-based singer / songwriter / pianist Davina Sowers holed up in Nashville’s Compass Sound Studio with producer (and Compass Records co-founder) Garry West, her trumpeter, string arranger and husband, Zack Lozier; and a rotating cast of powerhouse players including Todd Phillips (David Grisman, Robbie Fulks) on bass, Doug Lancio (Patty Griffin, John Hiatt, Tom Jones) on guitar, and Reese Wynans (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Bonamassa) on Hammond B3...

Davina and the Vagabonds debut album, Sugar Drops, pretty much sets the benchmark that all new artists should follow. There's diversity and a performing confidence that usually only shines through after years of studio recording.

It's a distillation of bluesy barroom baritone and bravado, graveyard jazz grooves, and noir-ish confessional lyricism backed by boisterous piano, guitar, and strings. This is a collection of songs that pays homage to the past, instilled with a deep respect and knowledge for the Great American Songbook.

"It represents about 100 years of Americana; I did exactly what I wanted to do," says says Davina Sowers. She developed a heavy drug habit in high school, which morphed into heroin dependency, left her homeless, sent her in and out of jail, and brought on all manner of trouble. Kicking dope on the streets, she "got clean, started the band, and worked her ass off every day since." The frontwoman describes this wild ride, and herself, best. “I am a miracle,” she exclaims. "It really is amazing I’m alive. I can barely express the life I’ve lived. Starting the band saved me. Even though I’ve been clean for a long time, I still suffer, but I persevere. For me, to be this miracle and shine for myself and others is really important."

While the songs are strong and memorable (most of which will make you want to get up and dance) it's Sowers's vocals that really draw you in and keep you coming back for more. Sugar Drops is a uplifting, timeless classic in the making.


Nick Smithson

Buy this item online

Digital album
Spotify logo
Digital album