Ethan Daniel Davidson takes another creative twist on his new album – Presse et Guide

Opera song

There are a lot of things that attract Ethan Daniel Davidson these days.

He is president of the Detroit Opera and a member of the board of trustees of the Motown Museum. He is treasurer and chairman of the grants committee of the William Davidson Foundation, a charity founded by his late adoptive father, the former owner of the Detroit Pistons. He co-produced a documentary on the latter and last year published his first book, These are the developments of the human.

That’s a far cry from the nomadic musician who played in a variety of bands and kicked off his six-year tour, performing more than 900 shows, after moving to Alaska in the mid-’90s.

But the music still draws Davidson, 52, as hard as ever. Earlier this year, he appeared on the debut EP of the Seedsmen to the World, an ad hoc all-star band from Detroit that includes his wife, Gretchen Gonzales Davidson, His Name is Alive’s Warren Defever and former Sponge guitarist /Detroit Cobras Joey Mazzola. And on Friday, September 30, Davidson releases “Stranger,” his 12th album, with a concert to celebrate its release the night before at Third Man Records Cass Corridor.

Davidson’s 12th album, “Stranger,” will be released on Friday, September 30. (Courtesy of Mark Pucci Media)

“I adapt to everything I have to do, but I write a lot of songs now, which is good,” said Davidson, who resides in Birmingham with his wife and two children. take a break after picking papaya fruits. “Things like this come in waves. I can go months without writing songs, then have a month where I write a bunch of them. When it knocks on my door, I have to answer it, you know? »

Davidson considers “Stranger” — which was co-produced by his wife and Defever and recorded with Mazzola and a group of other Detroit musicians — as something of an anomaly in his catalog. The project started before the pandemic, but circumstances led to “a very strange relationship” with the eight titles.

“I had written the songs, but hadn’t played them much before recording them,” says Davidson, a Lahser High School and University of Michigan alumnus. “We recorded them in real time as they were written. Usually I play songs two or three times before recording them, but this time, no. It was write them down, save them, done.

“Then the pandemic hit, so nothing happened for a few years with those recordings. I don’t know them as well as I knew my other recordings in the past. It’s kind of like a member of the family who lives in a different place; I know I’m related to this person, but now I have to try to get to know this person. It’s kind of weird.

Recorded in the Davidsons’ home studio, “Stranger” nevertheless blends elements of Davidson’s musical past and present into a melodically direct yet sonically dark and sometimes ethereal collection. It recognizes specific influences from Public Image Ltd. (on the opening track, “Even Bad Seeds”), Echo & the Bunnymen (“My Jail”), the Jesus and Mary Chain, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and other New Wave/Post-Punk bands on “about a third of the disk”. Meanwhile, his fascination with the Beatles’ use of minor and diminished chords is evident on songs such as “Let There Be More Light”.

At the same time, “Stranger” also stays true to Davidson’s American, folk and blues roots, notably on tracks such as “Oh I”, “My Train Got Lost”, “Dink’s Farewell” and “There Was a Famine in the House of Pain”, the latter inspired by the biblical book of Ruth.

“I love it, but I can’t quite make an entire record based on the Post Punk stuff,” Davidson says. “I end up coming back to somewhat familiar ground, but it’s interesting for me to confront American stuff with stuff that isn’t really American. It’s pretty cool. It’s more like a hodgepodge, which I’m more comfortable with, anyway.

He has also noticed a distinct direction his music has taken on his latest releases. “As the records go, there’s less and less upbeat stuff, a lot less rock ‘n’ roll. There was never a lot of rock ‘n’ roll to begin with, but there’s almost no rock ‘n’ roll now on these records. There is no more punk rock. There’s nothing you can dance to. But it is okay. That suits me. I want (the music) to be what comes naturally, doesn’t force anything.

Davidson – who had a ‘dream come true’ earlier this month when he performed with Emmylou Harris during an evening at Detroit’s Garden Theater – spent time learning ‘Stranger’ material for performances in direct. But even as he prepares for the album’s release, he’s also looking ahead to a future that he hopes will be populated with a steady stream of more music, whatever else is on his full plate.

“I have a whole closet full of recordings,” Davidson notes. “We have a big pile of things that I think are really good. It’s funny because in the past I tended to make a record and put it out and the turnaround times were really fast. I slowed down a bit with Motown and the Opera and the foundation and raising kids, and then the pandemic slowed us down more.

“So now I have this big notebook of music that we recorded. I’m already super excited for the next one, but you can’t release a new album every month, you know?

Ethan Daniel Davidson celebrates the release of “Stranger” with a performance at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 29 at Third Man Records Cass Corridor, 441 Canfield St., Detroit. Tickets can be reserved at bit.ly/3qZfNC5. 313-209-5205 or thirdmanrecords.com.