Amy and Gavin Davenport – A Boat of Promises

Album Review | Hallamtrads | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

This is the first outing on record for the husband/wife team of Amy and Gavin Davenport (Albion Band, Crucible), though they’ve been singing together for a good while. Both come from families known for their singing and therefore it was only a matter of time until the duo produced their own debut album. Like their Sheffield-based pals Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, the duo sing and write their own songs with further emphasis on the reworking of both traditional and contemporary material, both singing throughout, with Gavin’s guitar and cittern accompaniment, as well as guest appearances by Tim Yates, Tom Kitching and Jon Loomes. 

There’s a strong focus on the sea, emphasised not only in Amy’s evocative cover painting, but also by her background as an experienced tall ship sailor, with fine readings of such songs as Stan Rogers’ “The Jeannie C“, John Connolly’s “The Widowmaker” as well as Gavin’s own “A Boat of Promises”, from which the album takes its title. The duo’s combined singing voices work well together, especially on such songs as “Drowsy Sleeper”, a version of “Silver Dagger” and Archie Fisher’s “The Return“, a sequel to “The Witch of the Westmorland”, yet it’s with such songs as “I’m a-Fading Day by Day” and “Anne Bonnie”, that brings Amy’s surprisingly strong and convincing voice to the fore. Nancy Kerr’s “Droving Dreams” is a fine optimistic opener, given to the duo as they set out on their further adventures, first London and then Liverpool, their current home, a song that I’m sure resonates throughout their lives, whilst serving as their own particular signature. Living in a city with strong connections to both the sea and music, A Boat of Promises could perhaps be seen as an organic continuation of its seafaring history and its strong musical heritage.

Choice Track: “Drowsy Sleeper” (NSV 485)