“And you know how to find the Northern lights / and you know how to fight wildfires / and you know the Latin names for every tree / but you don’t know me,” Shenandoah Davis sings on the fourth track of her forthcoming third full-length record, Souvenirs. The song, “Gold Coast,” is one of the album’s many peaks in poetic, yet direct lyricism, showcasing Davis’ astounding ability to distill even the tiniest moment, to pinpoint even the smallest of feelings, and spin them into a dynamic narrative that instantly reels us in.

Shenandoah Davis grew up attached to the piano. Being homeschooled, she’d spend each day racing through her lessons so she’d have time to practice for as long as possible. After graduating from the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in opera performance, she packed up and moved to Seattle to pursue their music/arts scene. Davis has been based in Seattle for ten years now, but has spent nearly half of that time away from home, touring throughout North America and the globe both in support of her solo music as well as part of other bands. This extensive touring and DIY work ethic led Davis to write articles and publish zines, giving detailed advice to fellow musicians based on her own experiences recording and on the road, covering topics such as “The Art of Gratitude” and “Things That Will Probably Happen To You On Tour.” Her most recent full-length, 2011’s The Company We Keep, took her to New Zealand, Australia, and Portugal, and also led to coveted slots opening for The Lumineers, Laura Marling, Angel Olsen, and Martha Wainwright, to name a few.

Souvenirs is a breakup album, but not in the traditional sense. Recorded and produced by Sam Miller in his Brooklyn apartment, it delves into breakups both personal and professional, romantic and platonic, intimate and inanimate, shedding light upon seemingly inconsequential occurrences and illuminating their greater meanings and potential consequences in our lives. Its message is amplified by masterful vocals, driving piano, and sweeping orchestral arrangements, with horns and strings that were recorded at the College of St. Rose in Albany, New York, where Davis’ younger sister had been studying.

Souvenirs finds Davis wrestling with her own kind of High Fidelity moment. In going back through past relationships, “examining these heartaches and romantic catastrophes,” Davis shares, “I picked out a lot of little memories - moments both significant and insignificant that had gotten stuck in my head for one reason or another, moments where I suddenly realized because of a weird look or a too-long pause or an off-topic question that things are not going to work out in my favor in the end.” “East-Facing Window” is as much about a prospective partner as it is about the complicated, romanticized relationship one can have with New York City, “A Ride That Never Came” tells the story of a horrific bike crash Davis witnessed befall a love interest, and “Tilden” expresses the intricacies of “not believing in someone who is trying to reel you in,” as Davis explains.

In reviewing these moments and putting them into song, Davis realized she had created a new kind of souvenir collection, snapshots of time and emotion that had previously gotten lost along the way. In doing so, Davis has crafted a record that is both deeply personal and wildly relatable, leaving listeners with the room we so crave for self-application and reflection, while solidifying her voice as a powerful and prominent songwriter.

Shenandoah is on Plume Records in the US and on Home Alone Records in New Zealand.

Other bands and musicians she really likes are:                     
Paleo * Spirits of the Red City * Tomten * Aldous Harding * Brenda Xu
Moon Palace * Jenny Invert * Dark Dark Dark * Stelth Ulvang * Nick Jaina * Lisa Prank * Candi Stanton * Angel Olsen * Angelo de Augistine * Irma Thomas

The way that Shenandoah Davis plays her piano is spectacular. It’s like a flock of peacocks are spreading their wings right out there in the middle of an Independence Day fireworks celebration’s grand finale. It’s like a month’s worth of sunsets are all setting simultaneously, or they’ve all been printed onto clear plastic animation cells and have been placed over-top one another - played out all at once. What she brings to those keys is something like a five-course meal. It’s the meat and the potatoes, the salad, the appetizer and the dessert, all heading straight to the same pinpointed place.

They are all the different colors and hues that are pressing out of her eyes, maybe leaving her through her teeth and tongue - on the fast-track from the recesses of where she keeps all of her dark concerns and the nostalgic, Polaroid memories. They are the tones as they rest within her - that memory of sleeping underneath her grandfather’s piano, an act that must have had a profound effect on her. Sure, the image could be completely fabricated for the benefit of the narrative, but I would be seriously doubtful. I believe that Davis sought out and chose to fall asleep at the feet of her grandparents, below that upright piano. She could have been tired from anything, but it was likely something like the ice cream covered in Planters dry-roasted peanuts that we only had when we visited grandma when she was older, though we were never exactly sure how damned much older she actually was. We only learned when she was gone.

Davis gives words to her inner thoughts and those are the lyrics that she provides - always of great depth and with a theatrical bent (those that are meant for places with balconies and a wine-only bar) - but there is twice as much to delve into if we listen to what’s in the nervous way that her hands move across her piano. She perpetuates feelings that are never going to be quelled. They are feelings that are set to rattle through her for as long as she’s still upright. They are scars that she’s been able to turn musical. They are the shakes and the jitters that she sleeps with. They are those sensations that she finds hard to make wane, but it’s all alright. She fits them in where she needs them. She gives them blankets, pillows and three squares a day, finding their company to be quite welcome when the nights get too long.
— Sean Moeller,
Shenandoah Davis’ voice tends to linger in the room long after her recordings have stopped. She’s bound to leave you longing for more of the drama she creates when her otherwise demure croon scales the cliff face of the higher registers, and then rappels back down with a stunning restraint. In fact, the Seattleite’s first full-length, We; Camera, is teeming with these dangerous-but-beautiful moments that suck the breath right out of you. Clearly a classically trained pianist, effortlessly blending ragtime and blues with the frantic trills of Chopin compositions, Davis could easily garner comparisons to Joanna Newsom and Regina Spektor, but that just seems outright lazy. Instead, we’ll say it’s best to go and see for yourself, for talent like hers is meant to be experienced head-on.
— Raquel Nasser, Portland Mercury
Her vocals are reminiscent of the quavering, fragile, about-to-break delivery of Joanna Newsom, and the compositions of her pieces are no less complex. This is orchestral pop at its finest. When Shenandoah allows her music to breathe a bit, when she’s not taking the direct path of pop and instead flirting with beautiful fills, arpeggiated piano and violin trills, she is perfect. “Sewn up Tight” is an absolute gem. If it sounds like I’m raving, it’s because I am. Her music is full of cheese-free longing and a precious sort of nostalgia, and these are the moments I am in awe of- her ability to inject these genuine floating/hanging moments often and without a tinge of artifice, demonstrates her deft skills.
— NYC Deli Magazine
Local woman Shenandoah Davis opened the evening.
— The Seattle Times