Pop songs with theatrical flair are a rarity these days, but no one told Davie Simmons. His latest single “Halcyon Days” not only mixes theatrical pop with a retro rock line of attack but latches on to a literary bent shared by few, if any, modern artists. The song’s grounding in classical Greek myth provides an extra layer of meaning for attentive listeners without ever risking the sort of hamfisted pretension we might find in less artful songwriters. It is a result of Simmons’ vast experience with both life and his craft that he is able to incorporate such elements without ever alienating his audience. Instead, “Halcyon Days” gains a lot from the literary references and the musical accompaniment shares the same refreshing lack of self-consciousness. It makes for an invigorating listen from this San Leandro, California based singer/songwriter.
The track opens with a light flourish of cymbals before meditative guitar and Simmons’ voice enter the mix. He initially adopts patient pacing for the performance before the track begins in earnest, but the arrangement is laden with surprises. Simmons isn’t averse to upending listener’s expectations throughout the entirety of the song, but never in such a way it upsets the balance of the song – every decision is in keeping with the initial impulses driving the track to full fruition.
His musical shifts are paired with differences in vocal delivery throughout the course of the song as well. None of them are overly pronounced to the point they produce jarring effects for listeners – instead, they provide the audience with dramatic variations in the vocal approach preventing things from ever following uneventful straight lines or otherwise becoming stale. Despite the inherent strength of “Halcyon Days”, these choices are key to the song’s ultimate success,.
The lyrics boast a poetic flair without ever lapsing into outright obscurity. This is no small thing considering the song’s underlying concepts but Simmons’ ear for ear catching imagery and gripping statements keep listeners involved throughout the song’s entirety. This is likely much like his earlier “Angel Music Lover” – a lyric culled from an earlier time in Simmons’ personal history, but nonetheless retaining relevancy many years after its initial composition. The credits, likewise, do not mention the participation of his musical partners Andrew Camp and Esa Lehti, but their contributions are nonetheless likely.
There is no wasted motion. Running almost three minutes on the nose, Simmons doesn’t burn up listeners’ time with needless sideshows or pointless extravagance. Despite the song’s theatrical inclinations and mythological backdrop, Simmons and his cohorts succeed in concocting a song that connects with listeners on an emotional level while still sparkling with a level of intelligence you do not hear from anything modern music can offer. “Halcyon Days” is an excellent song but, moreover, it’s an excellent title for this stage of Simmons’ career – the dross of youth has fallen away and these are his halcyon days now and he is recording and delivering performances far outstripping anything he could have dared offer listeners as a much younger man.
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