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World Music CD Reviews North American

REVEREND GARY DAVIS

By PAUL-EMILE COMEAU
Published May 2, 2006

The Sun Of Our Life
World Arbiter

The Sun Of Our Life bears some similarities to If I Had My Way, another new release of previously unavailable Davis material. The latter (on Smithsonian Folkways) is made up of John Cohen’s 1953 home recordings, which predated all of Davis’s actual albums. The Sun Of Our Life consists of private recordings from 1955-57, produced by Allan Evans, who was Davis’ last student. Evans wrote extensive and fascinating notes for the album, as Cohen did for his production. The Sun Of Our Life features some of Davis’ wide-ranging styles, including instrumental pieces in the form of blues and rags (some of which are improvisations), some gospel songs, and an idiosyncratic version of “Candy Man,” sung in a squeaky-voiced falsetto. One track consists of an impassioned 20-minute sermon, the first time a recording of one of Davis’ church services has been released. Davis