Mark has released three CDs and two singles. Read the reviews by selecting from the items below:
Review by Joy Duncan
\Who is Madeline Jane? Maybe the Belle of the Ball in an old frontier town, a blue and white sail boat bobbing on a Celtic bay or that eccentric lavender scented maiden aunt with a penchant for peculiar gifts. Maybe...
Madeline Jane is also the title track of Mark Davidson's latest CD - an album which may well have been sub-titled Mark Davidson Plus (or MD+ if you're a technophile).
Plus what? Plus an awesome array of music writing talent. Mark tells us that the cornerstones of this CD are the 4 songs Madeline Jane, '59 Jive, Love's Just Waiting To Pounce, and In The Ballroom Of The Stars, - compositions which Mark co-wrote with Steve Crass, Chrissy Euston, Ewan MacKenzie and Julie McGonigal respectively.
Plus ten terrific support muso's each with their own unique style and perspective. The contributions of Mary Brettell, Maxine Chisholm, Christine Douglas, Robin Etter-Cleave, Chrissy Euston, Chuck Euston, John Groome, Terry Jacob, Ewan MacKenzie and Michael Tully create balance and guarantee variety throughout the album. While each track has the capacity to stand alone, congruence within the overall CD makes listening to it feel like a harmonious journey among friends.
Plus the magical musical moments when the whole truly is greater than the sum of the parts. Madeline Jane holds a resonance for those familiar with Mark's warm narrative style, crisp delivery and gentle lyrics exploring strong universal themes. Themes of family, humanity with all its flair and flaws and the unifying power of music unfold in this upbeat optimistic CD.
So who is Madeline Jane? I'm not telling. Find out more...
Review by Anne Infante
Mark Davidson needs no introduction to Brisbane folkies. Laughter in the Clay is his long-awaited debut solo album and it’s a sheer delight – gentle listening; wondrous pictures in rhyme; lilting, lovely tunes – exactly what we expect from this multi-talented performer and songmaker.
Mark writes strongly appealing songs about real people and places, involving us in his own life experiences which mirror so many of our own. His music charms, lifts or soothes with its peaceful images (Dancing down the Isle of Skye), its playful creativity (Pasta Banquet Blues), its heart-tugging remembrances of lost friends (Mr. Arthur, Jean d’Lyons) and of family legends and laughter (Apple Cake Rag, Little Girl Dancer, June’s Gift).
Devotees of Mark music (and there are many) will discover old favourites (Dance Time Susan) and lesser known treasures to be enjoyed (Ahoy Watchman!, Laughter in the Clay, With the Wind – lyrics by Paul Sherman).
As well as lead vocals, Mark plays lead and rhythm guitars and many of Brisbane’s talented folk family have added their outstanding talents. Support vocals are by Ross Roache, Rose Broe and David Logan and Maxine Chisholm joins Mark singing lead vocals on Jean d’ Lyons. Rose Broe also plays piano accordion and keyboards; Paul Cannon contributes mandolin, guitar and tenor banjo; Michael Tully is on Bass; Matt Kealley, percussion; Steven Lake, fiddle; Robin Etter-Cleave, flutes and whistle; David Logan, lead electric guitar.
Laughter in the Clay is yet another excellent production from the incomparable Mark Smith’s Real Productions studio, mixed by Dave Neal at the Refinery, and once again Mary Brettell’s fine hand is seen in the excellent cover design, layout, artwork and photography.
Folk Rag, May 2007.
Review by Ian Dearden
I am constantly and delightfully, surprised with the talent pool in Brisbane. I am even more delighted that an increasing number of Brisbane folk performers have been releasing albums, so that the rest of the country gets to hear the talent we have here in Brisvegas.
One of the latest, sensitively recorded by the hardworking Mark Smith, is Laughter in the Clay by Mark Davidson.
The Cd features eleven original songs inspired by his cousin’s daughter (“Little Girl Dancer”), his mother (“June’s Gift”), two great aunt’s “Laughter in the Clay” and Jean d’Lyons”) and an uncle (“Apple Cake Rag”).
I was particularly taken by the song “Mr. Arthur” inspired by the late, great Stan Arthur, stalwart of the Brisbane folk scene, a long-time member of The Wayfarers, and the proprietor for many years of The Folk Centre, where I (and many other folk neophytes) received our first introduction into the honoured movement.
The album features the cream of Brisbane’s folk scene including Rose Broe on accordion, keyboards and vocals, the rocksteady bass of Michael Tully, the fiddle of Steven Lake and the sympathetic vocals of Ross Roache.
Together this crew have helped Mark realise the dream of every performer, to leave a mark worth leaving (forgive the pun!). Special mention to Mary Brettell for the great album design.
Trad & Now Magazine, May 2008.
Review by June Nichols
I feel privileged to be asked to review this album but having never done anything like this before I really don’t know where to start. Oh well here goes.
As an overall view, this album consists of a fairly wide variety of styles and instruments, from an Aboriginal like “dreaming” story through a-capella and war memories to traditional Scottish and American music, not to forget Mark’s compositions influenced by Tom Paxton and Ralph McTell. Instrumentation varies from acoustic, piano, fiddle, tin whistles, to pedal steel guitar, electric 12-string and drums, from 5- string banjo, mandolin, mountain dulcimer and autoharp to melodeon and harmonium.
This album is 55 minutes of easy listening, split into 15 tracks, giving good value for money. Even the most narrow taste should like some track on this CD. I can truthfully state that I enjoy listening to each and every one, with the variety of styles and instrumentation it never allows the listener to become bored.
Production, recording and mix is clean and well balanced, due in part to the very capable hands and ears of roger Ilott of Restless Music. It even plays well in computer CD ROM so you can listen while working.
Mark and Julie have gathered lots of good talent to support their album, from the beautiful singing of Madonna Garrigan to artists like Sharon Doro and Roger & Penny who are excellent performers in their own right. The delightful, laid-back 5-string banjo style of Brian Wright is a treat, a real pleasure to listen to, a contrast to the harsher Bluegrass style. As a matter of fact the tracks with Brian’s banjo are among my favourites on the album. It’s hard to pick one favourite because I like them all, but I must mention a few that stand out for one reason or another, “Annie’s left for London”, The Day before the Sky fell down”, “Albany” and “I will love you forever” give a bit of insight into the writer. The arrangements are interesting and well thought out. Each track seems to change the pace.
Both Mark and Julie have been around the Brisbane folk scene a good many years.
The launch of this latest offering has been long in the making and is worth the wait.
June Nichols - Editor The Folk Rag