Shirley Davis and The Sliverbacks-Wishes and Wants.

Label: Tucxone Records.

Two years after Shirley Davis and The Sliverbacks released their critically acclaimed debut album Black Rose in March 2016, the London-born soul diva her backing band return with their much-anticipated sophomore album Wishes and Wants which has just been released by Tucxone Records. The release of Wishes and Wants marks the welcome return of one of Europe’s top soul singers, Shirley Davis who has a remarkable story to tell.

Shirley Davis was born in 1974, to Jamaican parents, and grew up in North West London, not far from Wembley Stadium. By the age of twelve, Shirley Davis got her first job, which was selling programs and tee-shirts at concerts Wembley Stadium. This was her “best job ever” and allowed her to hear some of the giants music including Pink Floyd, Prince, the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson and his sister Janet Jackson. However, it was Stevie Wonder that inspired Shirley Davis, who was already dreaming of stardom and taking to the stage at Wembley Stadium. However, things didn’t work out that way.

When Shirley Davis was fifteen she met and fell in love with her future husband, and what can only be described as a whirlwind romance ensued. Within a year, the young couple were married, and sixteen year old Shirley Davis and her new husband decided to emigrate to Australia.

Rather than settle in one Australia’s major city’s where there were vibrant multicultural communities, Shirley Davis and her new husband moved to the Outback. For a young black woman who up until then had spent her entire life in London, this was a culture shock. However, Shirley Davis was determined to make go of her new life, and wasn’t going to head home where people would doubtless say: “ I told you so.”

Shirley Davis tried her best to overcome the difficulties that she had experienced, and got used to her new home. Four years later, she was  twenty and still living in the Australian Outback when her daughter was born. However, by the time she was twenty-three, Shirley Davis was divorced and had moved to Melbourne to start over.

Despite the fresh start in Melbourne, Shirley Davis who was now a single mother, felt like a stranger in a foreign land and was unsure of what the future held for her. Fortunately, one of her friends suggested that she tried singing, and within a matter of a few weeks, she was the lead singer of a soul and funk band. This was the start of a new chapter in Shirley Davis’ life.

Before long, Shirley Davis was encouraged to start studying music, and began taking classes in blues, jazz and various other styles of black music. Shirley Davis benefited from her musical studies, and it wasn’t long before she was a familiar face on the Melbourne music scene singing with two of the city’s top soul and funk groups as Deep Street Soul and Grand Wazoo. This was just the start for Shirley Davis, who was soon be rubbing shoulders with the great and good of soul. 

Soon, word was spreading about Shirley Davis, and when artists and groups were playing or recording in Melbourne and needed a backing vocalist, she was their first port of call. Shirley Davis was asked to accompany soul giants like Wilson Pickett and Marva Whitney, and also worked with Lee Fields and the soul band Osaka Monaurail when they toured Australia. By then, Shirley Davis’ life had been totally transformed, and would get even better.

In 2005, the Australian pop-dance group Deepface invited Shirley Davis to become their vocalist, and soon, the band were enjoying chart success. Buoyed by several hit singles, Deepface was soon playing in front of crowds in excess of 30,000, which was a dream come true. However, what happened next was like something out of a dream.

When Sharon Jones played in Melbourne in 2007, Shirley Davis who was a fan of the American soul singer went along to one of her favourite singers in concert. During her show, Sharon Jones often chose a member of the audience to join her on stage and sing with her. That night, Sharon Jones picked Shirley Davis to join her on the stage. For once, Sharon Jones had invited onto the stage who could sing, and the two divas sung together.  This was the start of a friendship that lasted right up until Sharon Jones’ death on the ’18th’ of October 2016. During that nine-year period, Shirley Davis admits: She was a mentor to me. She told me I could sing…she encouraged me. She had the biggest impact on my life.”

In 2011, Shirley Davis’ daughter decided to emigrate to London, which impacted on her life, and left her feeling lonely and directionless. When Shirley Davis saw an advert for a singer on a cruise ship she decided to apply, and got the job. What had been a spur of the moment decision saw Shirley Davis leave her life in Melbourne behind, and start a new adventure that lasted three years.

Three years later, in 2014, Shirley Davis was vacationing in Madrid, Spain, when saw that her mentor Sharon Jones was playing. Shirley Davis decided to go along, and when Sharon Jones saw her friend in the audience, invited her onto the stage to sing with her. Little did Shirley Davis know that Alberto “Tuco” Peces and Genesis Candela from Tucxone Records were watching and were blown away by her performance.

After her vacation, Shirley Davis returned home to Melbourne, after three years sailing the high seas. Meanwhile, Alberto “Tuco” Peces and Genesis Candela from Tucxone Records were trying to track Shirley Davis down, to ask her if she would like to return to Madrid and record an album. Eventually they found Shirley Davis, who didn’t take long to make her mind up, and was soon, flying back to Madrid where the hard work began.

Once Shirley Davis met with Alberto “Tuco” Peces and Genesis Candela from Tucxone Records, they introduced the soul diva to her new backing band The Silverbacks. Straight away, they hit it off and from the get-go, and during the rehearsals, Shirley Davis and The Sliverbacks formed a formidable partnership. This augured well for Shirley Davis and The Sliverbacks, and just a few short weeks later,  they began recording their debut album Black Rose in late-2015.

When Shirley Davis and The Sliverbacks released Black Rose in March 2016, it was to critical acclaim, with critics and commentators bowled over by an album of contemporary soul and funk. Many critics were forecasting a bright future for Shirley Davis and The Sliverbacks.

Buoyed by the success of Black Rose, soon, Shirley Davis and The Sliverbacks’ thoughts turned to their sophomore album. This is regarded as the most difficult album of a band’s career, and many artists and groups have laboured long and hard with their “difficult second album.” However, that wasn’t the case with Shirley Davis and The Silverbacks, when they began writing what eventually became Wishes and Wants.

It was written by Shirley Davis with The Sliverbacks’ bandleader and lead guitarist Eduardo Martínez and songwriter Marc Ibarz. Shirley Davis explains that: “we write together-they understand my life story and all I’ve been through.” The result was a captivating album that documents the struggle of a black woman in life, love and loss. Wishes and Wants tells Shirley Davis’ story in ten songs which she recorded with her backing band The Sliverbacks.

When Shirley Davis with The Sliverbacks entered the studio to record Wishes and Wants, they combined sweet soul music with funk and Afrobeat. Shirley Davis delivered a series of impassioned, emotive and soul-baring vocals that channel the spirit of everyone from Gladys Night, Marva Whitney and her mentor Sharon Jones. The result is a truly powerful and autobiographical album Wishes and Wants, which tells the story of soul diva Shirley Davis with the help of her backing band The Sliverbacks.

Wishes and Wants bursts into life with the tough, funky horn lead, title-track where The Silverbacks’ rhythm section and organ provide the perfect backdrop for soul diva Shirley Davis, as she unleashes a powerhouse of a virtuous vocal. 

The Silverbacks then drop the tempo as funk meets Southern Soul and later rock on Like Fire. It’s something of a slow burner, where Shirley Davis’ vocal veers between soulful to sassy and needy before the track reaches a crescendo and becomes dramatic, explosive and truly memorable. 

Chiming guitars and washes of organ open the soulful stomper as a searing guitar is unleashed and Shirley Davis fires a warning shot across the bows of her man on Treat Me Better. She issues the ultimatum Treat Me Better as The Silverbacks fuse funk and soul while drawing inspiration from The Isley Brothers. By then, horns soar above the arrangement and Shirley Davis plays a starring role,  breathing life and meaning into the lyrics.

Stabs of horns combine with thunderous drums and washes of organ as the funky dancer Kisses unfolds. Soon, Shirley Davis describes her new beau as: “ugly but he kisses so good!” Meanwhile, a stomping beat, funky guitar and blazing horns are provide the perfect backdrop to Shirley Davis as she unleashes a needy, soulful and sassy vocal.

During Silverbacks Theme, Shirley Davis lets her backing band take centre-stage as they create a funky and cinematic instrumental, that is a tantalising taste of this uber funky combo in full flight. 

It’s all change on Nightlife where Shirley Davis and The Silverbacks unleash a glorious slice of Afro-funk, that sounds as if  it was recorded in Lagos, rather than Madrid. 

Shirley Davis and The Silverbacks change tack, and head in the direction of Southern Soul on All About Music. It comes complete with stabs of horns and washes of swirling organ as Shirley Davis delivers one of her finest vocals on what’s one of the finest tracks on Wishes and Wants. 

Horns combine with the rhythm section on Smile, before Shirley Davis issues another ultimatum to her partner, as the arrangement swings. Meanwhile, washes of organ and the bass play leading roles, as the horns occasionally punctuate the arrangement. Later, backing vocalists accompany Shirley Davis as she delivers a soulful and emotive vocal during this irresistible track.

From the get-go, Shirley Davis combines power, emotion and hurt on Troubles and Trials as horns accompany and the rhythm section provide the heartbeat. They combine with the organ and occasional rasping horns as Shirley Davis unleashes a soul-baring vocal that is full of emotion. The Silverbacks realising that something special is unfolding, and raise their game as the drama builds during this soul soap opera.

Soul diva Shirley Davis and The Silverbacks close Wishes and Wants with Woman Dignity. It’s an uptempo track with some of the best and most powerful lyrics on the album. Shirley Davis unleashes a vocal powerhouse as The Silverbacks’ rhythm and horns sections combine with a swirling organ and searing guitar. Later, it’s all change as the tempo drops and becomes understated, jazz-tinged and sultry which allows the listener to ruminate on Woman Dignity, and the rest of Wishes and Wants.

Two years after Shirley Davis and The Silverbacks released their debut album Black Rose, they return with the much-anticipated followup Wishes and Wants, which has just been released on Tucxone Records. Wishes and Wants marks the welcome return of a truly talented soul diva Shirley Davis, whose accompanied every step of the way by The Silverbacks who provide the perfect backdrop on what’s a very special album.

It’s also a very personal album, with Wishes and Wants documenting the struggle of a black woman in life, love and loss, and essentially, tells Shirley Davis’ story in ten songs. Meanwhile, The Silverbacks seamlessly switch between and sometimes combine Afrobeat, funk, rock and soul. The result is an album that veers between deeply soulful to funky and dancefloor friendly. Other times, the music is thought-provoking, tugs at the heartstrings or is uplifting or tinged with humour. Wishes and Wants is an emotional roller coaster where Shirley Davis and The Silverbacks don’t spare the hooks on this carefully crafted album of contemporary funk and soul, which showcases a truly talented soul diva. 

Shirley Davis and The Sliverbacks-Wishes and Wants.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: