Billy Davis: A Family Portrait

- The time has arrived! After the buzz from the Bad Endings mixtape released last year, Billy Davis has gifted us his debut album. But just who is this Billy Davis guy? One might think it is the slick project of one mastermind, yet it is a collective force created from the many talents of his band, dubbed as The Good Lords. Davis explained how they all met in an interview, and, to a degree, how the LP’s title was conceived: “All the band's vocalists were all strangers I found on Instagram and now they are my siblings who bicker with each other constantly but love each other to death.” Hailing from the hubs of Melbourne, Davis and the Good Lords have built an army of fourteen jams to take down some of the best in the music world. Armed with hip-hop, nu-jazz, rap, neo-soul and future r’n’b, when united, they stand tall against the likes of international hits by KaytranadaClams Casino and even Pharrell Williams.

The tone is set perfectly from the Intro, soaked in a Motown instrumental, matched with a rap monologue. If this doesn’t get you drenched for more, than perhaps track three is more your flavour. Goldfish featuring Denzel Curry, is by far my favourite beat on the LP, borrowing an arrangement fit for MJ during his early days, think along the lines of Rock With You. The bass is phat and funky, the keys are magical and float while the pads and guitar licks fill out the track’s late ‘70’s / early ‘80’s vibe. You can’t forget the vocals though, The Good Lords sing sweet lyrics, assisted by the referencing of cute pop culture like Jigglypuff along the way. Then walks in Curry featuring on the bridge like a pro, bringing his all on a rap verse equivalent to a young Jay-Z. When it’s all over get ready for the follow up, No Longer Lovers, a breakup banger, mirroring a Kaytranada / Disclosure beat, that put Davis on the map. Although Billy has stated that he is sick of playing it live, fans would agree that it would be a sin to miss it off his setlist.

The first half of the LP is full of upbeat, single-worthy tracks, whilst most of the second half fits in the slow jams ‘slash’ serenading hymns box. It’s not a bad thing, I actually think it was done on purpose, to match the side A and B of a vinyl or cassette tape. If you want bangers to bop to, play side A, and if you want slow jams for netflix, and a bit of chilling, play side B. I think side B has some great moments, especially track nine, Used Good, with solid rap verses, but for me, it lacks some of the colour and depth of side A. Either way, Billy Davis and The Good Lords have orchestrated a musical tastemaker for almost everyone’s ears. They are bringing back all the funk of the past, with beats and tunes saturated with Fender Rhodes keys, modern basslines and some of the finest vocal talents around. A Family Portrait is just what it claims to be, a snapshot of a family, and this one looks and sounds pretty darn stellar.

- Luke Doig.

Album Details

Album Title: A Family Portrait
Artist: Billy Davis
Record Label: (Good Manners)