Dawn Davi is a pianist, composer and educator based in Toronto. Through her music, she aims at understanding herself and the world in a better way. After going through a life-changing event, Davi started digging deeper into the comprehension of the senses—in particular the way they form feelings in our psyche. The result of this search has been translated in music, through Sweet Apple. Her second solo release–after Vexations in 2015–is a collection of seven pieces for piano, strings and brass—tinted by fictive writings and philosophies, from Saint-Exupéry to Frost.
Davis’s talent as a musician shines in her arranging skills. The title track, Sweet Apple, shows a tasteful—and rather grieving—arrangement of brass and strings combined with the piano, while Long Road displays a thoughtful usage of extended techniques to provide coloristic and emotional effects. Sunday Today is one of the most well-composed piece of the album and is inspired by the poem of the same name by Nazim Hikmet. My personal favourite, it displays an arrangement of strings—both bowed and pizzicati—, piano and trumpet. Davi’s music is also harmonically very rich, and it is reflected in the miniature that is Snow Flakes, a piece that uplifts the album through a surprising harmonic shift, or In the Beginning that fluctuates between solemn winds and jazz harmonies. Just Before Leaving is a darker piece that evolves in a timely manner, through subtle rhythmic and melodic changes, and Luvu has a impressionistic floating aspect, a sort of musical circular glimpse. At times, it might seem that some of the production choices impact the quality of the piece; In Eyes of a Tree, the decision of merging textural effects with the traditional instruments creates an imbalance between the composition and arrangement, and the production. In The Puzzle—which is inspired by Kierkegaard’s philosophy—Davi approaches themes such as the understanding of life and its mysteries.
Using music as her medium, Davi aims at bringing a sense of serenity to the listener—and to some extent herself; if Sweet Apple is an album full of deep emotional content for the artist, it definitely conveys an idea of stillness and reflection. The composer’s second opus reveals a talent for arranging and creating effortlessly simple but harmonically rich music.