Now Playing: Strictly Elizabeth’s ‘Shelter In Place’

Strictly Elizabeth
Image courtesy of Strictly Elizabeth

Architect, singer-songwriter, and musician Strictly Elizabeth is prepping for the release of her debut disc Shelter In Place. The album is set to drop on May 29th on Data Water Records. But first, for those not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.

Strictly Elizabeth

Strictly Elizabeth
Image courtesy of Strictly Elizabeth

Strictly Elizabeth is, in reality, Jessica Elizabeth Davenport. Following the death of her husband, she chose to dedicate her life (or a more significant part of it) to further the cause of music. She picked up her guitar and became the artist known as Strictly Elizabeth. Her goal was to record her semi-autobiographical songs and create an animated video for her premiere platter.

Davenport has a long history of being interested in both architecture and music. When pressed to make a choice, she chose architecture and eventually earned a Master’s degree in Architecture from the University of Cincinnati. In the crushing wake of horrible Hurricane Katrina, government contractor Davenport traveled to the city of New Orleans.

She unexpectedly discovered herself in the midst of what her official website calls “an impractical live music set” at the popular hot spot known as Checkpoint Charlie. The songful seeds of her alter ego were sown that night. For it was at that moment, that Strictly Elizabeth was actually born.

Signature sound

Elizabeth’s signature sound is a mix of multiple music genres. It includes assorted elements of alternative, pop, rock, and more.

Shelter In Place

This album was co-produced with her musical collaborator and engineer Chris Hughes. The material here is the result of her efforts to channel, exercise, and perhaps even exorcise her feelings, pain, and personal issues. It was here that her spiritual and decidedly creative sojourn began.

Recently, Davenport discussed Strictly Elizabeth’s origin and the creation of the album itself. She said: “For me – I was frustrated with architecture and was dealing with a lot of emotional pain, so I simply picked up my guitar.”

She added: “It took me quite a while to literally and figuratively find my voice and that of my alter ego but Shelter in Place is the outgrowth of much soul-searching and healing. It’s exactly the record I wanted to make.”

On this 9-track disc, Elizabeth leads the way on guitar and vocals. All songs here are originals, although three were co-composed with Hughes.

Track by Track

The album opener is titled “Cold Calculus.” This one was co-written with Hughes. It’s enough to draw the listener in but barely foreshadows what is to come.

The second song is “Oscillation Friday.” It’s but the first example of what Davenport can do on her own. It has a college radio feel to it and might be a bit brief but more is on the way so why worry?

The next number is the upbeat “Baby C’mon.” This track is ready for radio complete with a fun, friendly message.

“Seduction Trash” follows. It might focus on a moment of human imperfection but it has its own little drive that makes it work.

Things briefly slow down a bit on “Western Soul.” It has a solid song structure and a slight edge that suits the mood and remains true to the overall album.

“Dogs and Traps” picks things up again from note one. It’s perfectly placed on the album and would be quite at home in a movie soundtrack.

“Watch the Clockwork” was also co-composed with Hughes. The vocal harmonies and other performance elements remain consistent while not surrendering its individual identity.

“California Bend” is the final example of what the lady can do when teamed up with Hughes. Beyond the obvious subject matter, there is definitely something Californian about this one and that’s quite apropos of course.

The album endnote is “This Possession.” Here the listener is given one last opportunity to take in the talents of Strictly Elizabeth a capella. It’s almost a closing prayer or perhaps a summary of experience, acceptance, and even underlying hope.

Overall . . .

Overall, the platter is pretty much what it’s promoted to be. It’s a lively combination of almost autobiographical, angst-ripe lyrics, indie music guitar riffs, “dreamy pop lullabies,” and pleasing albeit sometimes sad “plaintive vocals.”

It’s a premiere platter rife with both personal tragedy and triumphs. Currently storyboarding videos for each tuneful track, the entire project is inspired by both architect and artist Maya Lin and singer-songwriter and painter Joni Mitchell. So check out Strictly Elizabeth’s Shelter In Place if only because it has that “Western Soul.”