Davin McCoy & Lilly Winwood

Davin McCoy

PAIN, SUFFERING, AND LOSS…
three elements baked deeply into the fabric of love, or rather, a true love lost. These are the things of which the greatest artists of all time have feasted, in through their uniquely experienced and engineered pores, and out to the world après time served within the walls of the artist’s hearts and minds. Such are the autobiographical, painstaking roads traveled by Davin McCoy’s eloquently crafted, individually wrapped soulful pieces of art, his songs, tied together, so ever tightly, by a grief stricken fueled common thread, by cigarette stained fingers avec a not yet finished quarter left high ball. A personal compilation of emotions wrapped with and by a heart-wrenching bow known as McCoy’s sophomore effort Whiskey Sexy.

Recalls McCoy, “I called up [label head] Adam Blank, and said, ‘I’ve been on the floor for two weeks with a bottle of whiskey and a guitar, and I’ve written a whole new record—if you want to do this, tell me right now,’ and Adam didn’t hesitate. He said ‘Let’s do it.'”

Enter veteran producer Don McCollister. After 20-plus years producing hits for artists like Shawn Mullins, Third Day and Sister Hazel, the studio veteran admits he’d lost his passion for making records. In fact, he’d stopped entirely until the prospect of working with McCoy singlehandedly brought him out of retirement. “Davin’s voice is so compelling,” McCollister says. “As soon as he opens his mouth in front of a microphone, everybody stops to listen. Working on this record with him really rekindled my fire.”

Together, they recorded Whiskey Sexy in just two weeks, powering through a series of inspired sessions using Brendan O’Brien’s state-of-the-art gear at Third Day’s studio, The Quarry, just outside of Atlanta.

“We were always on the same page, and we completely committed ourselves to the process,” McCoy says. “I basically slept at the studio for two weeks straight—Don and I both did, and we had some amazing players rally around us. It seemed like everybody knew we were making the record. There was a buzz about the project—all these great Atlanta musicians were dropping by to hang out. There was a pool table and a bar in the studio. Ryan Newell from Sister Hazel would be shooting pool, and we’d be like, ‘Hey, man, you hear something? Why don’t you go in there and lay down a guitar part?'”

Whiskey Sexy also features Grant Reynolds (of Ed Roland’s Sweet Tea Project), Marty Kearns (Shawn Mullins, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, Anthony David), Davin’s live band and about a half-dozen others. But more than all the prime guest spots, it’s McCoy’s inspired voice and unmistakable songcraft that tie the record together as it meanders from blue-eyed soul to country, classic pop to blues and rock & roll. It’s a sound rooted deeply in the artist’s childhood.

On irreverent pop-culture sendup, “Movie Stars and Drama Queens,” McCoy sings, “God made a monster to shoulder the blame / He gets the glory, we take the shame / I ate the apple, but you made the tree / So you go to hell and leave heaven for me.” You can hear his unique blend of childhood influences come to fruition on Whiskey Sexy, as he turns his clever wordplay inside out with his impassioned delivery. And he’s equally adept at taking a simple line and wringing every ounce of feeling from it. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in his stirring, incendiary delivery on the outro of pensive, lovelorn ballad “C’est La Vie.”

For a fleeting hour, Whiskey Sexy fingers the jagged grains of life and love, expectation and disillusionment, anger and anguish, and—finally—transcendence through music. “Turning real heartbreak into song can validate the whole experience,” McCoy says. “It can take all that negative energy and do something productive with it.” And not just for the artist, for the listener, too.

Lilly Winwood

In 2015, Lilly Winwood needed a vacation. The countryside of her native Gloucestershire, England felt too familiar, and London was, in her own words, “so big, so expensive, and reeked of havoc and loss and all that good stuff.” So Winwood hopped on a plane to Nashville, where she’d spent childhood summers visiting her mother’s family. The plan was to come back to England after a few weeks—but the vacation never ended.

Silver Stage, the debut EP from Lilly Winwood (daughter of classic rock legend Steve Winwood) chronicles this journey through earnest coming-of-age narratives and a sound that—much like her father’s work—offers an English take on traditional American roots music. Backed by Nashville-via-Australia producer Joshua Barber (Gotye, Archie Roach), the songs on “Silver Stage” blend Bonnie Raitt’s world-weary vocals, My Morning Jacket’s ethereal twang, and Brittany Howard's no-bullshit bravado to create an EP that pays homage to Lilly’s singer-songwriter idols (like John Prine) and establishes the twenty-one-year-old as a writer that’s wise beyond her years. For evidence, look no further than standout track “Safehouse,” a slow-burning, soulful meditation on adolescence that explores the bittersweet nature of growing up.

It’s no surprise that Lilly sounds at home on Silver Stage, though, considering she’s played music for most of her life. She’s written songs since her early teens (she wrote “London,” a song about an ex moving to the city, when she was fifteen), and she grew up playing in bands with her brother, Cal. Shortly after she began touring at age sixteen, and in 2016, she recorded a duet of “Higher Love” with her dad for a 2016 Hershey’s commercial, which Adweek lauded as “a true anthem spot.” This April, Lilly will hit the road as the support act for Steve Winwood’s Spring 2017 Tour. Silver Stage is set for a Spring 2017 release, with a full-length to follow in the fall.

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