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Ear to the Ground: Bart Davenport's "Fuck Fame"

Gritty leads meet blue-eyed soul in this brutally honest tune from the prolific songwriter.

Bart Davenport has been a prolific songwriter since the early ’80s. But back then he was obsessed with the ’60s. As a teenager, Davenport and guitarist Xan McCurdy formed period-correct R&B mod band the Birminghams before assembling the similarly retro garage-blues quartet the Loved Ones. At the dawn of the 1990s, Davenport and McCurdy took on ’70s soul-pop with the Kinetics. And when that band dissolved, McCurdy went the distance to join Cake. Subsequently, Davenport entered the 21st century as a solo artist.

The man’s first five albums walk the listener through the varied genes of his vintage vinyl collection. He’s gone through phases that include Free Design-influenced soft rock, classic hootenanny folk, Left Bank-esque baroque pop, bossa nova tinged ballads, neon ’80s power pop, and some psychedelic Arthur Lee worship—all while retaining his soul bent.

Without McCurdy at his side, Davenport has been handling most 6-string duties throughout his solo career. And the seasoned tunesmith has now come into his own as a guitarist on his sixth full-length studio album, Physical World. The album’s standout single, “Fuck Fame,” intersects chorus-dimed jangle with a sassy blue-eyed soul groove that Joe Jackson would approve of, while the closing solo layers muted harmonics under a gritty lead that balances restraint and showmanship through a vintage-Fender tone that’s as buttery as Davenport’s honeyed voice.