Everybody wants to be in love. This simple and soul-bearing truth is presented to you within the opening minutes of Slow Leaves’ Beauty is so Common. Even the record’s title itself accurately suggests that Grant Davidson’s (Slow Leaves) songwriting is rooted in honesty and the clarity that comes with someone who has gone through a lot. Or maybe just someone who knows how to tell a good story. In any case, we are all connected by the most basic of emotions and experiences and Davidson captures that with such skill.
In a folk based, country-tinged blend that is very popular right now, the richness to Davidson’s craft is hard to miss. The warmth in his vocals and the record’s easy pace allows Beauty is so Common to nestle in amongst your decade spanning folk/country collection or become something new to lean on when your go-to melancholic records have done their time.
The aforementioned “Everybody Wants To Be In Love” is a rambling journey of hardship. Despite Davidson’s gruff vocals, this track feels like an intimate moment that can be found during reflection or confiding in another person. The repetition of the song’s title throughout anchors the song in a sincerity that’s hard not to be drawn to.
This particular gentleness can also be found scattered throughout Beauty is so Common. “Dreamer” is a quick reassuring love song highlighted by the lyric, “if we’re wrong, then we’re wrong. If we’re right, then it’s alright and we’re alright,” while “Institution” is another soft and melodious number that continues to showcase Davidson’s keen abilities to write an intimate and memorable song.
Unlike Neil Young’s weekend journey driven by heartbreak, Davidson sings of being “out on the weekend with nothing to do” in “Nostalgia.” An accessible pop infused song with rich layered guitar parts, a faint horn inclusion, and some beautiful falsetto work to boot.
“Life of a Better Man” and “Country of Ideas” are some of the most upbeat from the record. Letting the country side of Davidson have the majority of the spotlight, the amped up pace compliments Davidson’s vocal style nicely and allowing him to show off a bit more attitude.
“Rearview” is a slow-burning album closer that captures the spirit of Beauty is so Common. The strength of the song lies in its timeless sounding arrangement. From a simple acoustic guitar and harmonica pairing, “Rearview” grows to a welcoming and familiar grouping of instruments including a few neatly placed doo-wop style backing vocals for a warmth that radiates.
As Davidson suggests, beauty can be found in the most ordinary of places. One just has to look up from their screens long enough to notice. In the case of Slow Leaves’ record, finding its beauty isn’t hard at all.
Top Tracks: “Everybody Wants To Be In Love,” “Nostalgia”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)