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Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

Davina and the Vagabonds: Sunshine (Roustabout Records)

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Few artists embody the proud DIY ethic of the Twin Cities music scene like Davina and the Vagabonds. Recorded in analog and showcasing the undeniably quirky vocals of pianist Davina Sowers, Sunshine is the follow-up to 2011’s Black Cloud, and it smiles with sassy acoustic blues, jazz and ragtime rich in keys, horns and joy. From the playful title track to the good-time New Orleans vibe of “You Better Start Praying”—with the slow and smoky “Away From Me” and its heartbreaking chorus slotted in the middle—“Side A” serves as a prime introduction to this quintet. “Side B” is nearly as good, with three covers including Fats Waller’s jaunty “You Must Be Losing Your Mind” and Sowers’ solo take on Patty Griffin’s “Heavenly Day.” Davina and the Vagabonds manage to sound contemporary without losing their old-time groove, and their album art and stage presence look straight out of central casting, circa the 1930s.