By the time his duo Georgie James released its standout 2007 debut CD, Places, John Davis already realized the group wasn't going to last. Though Georgie James' driving, oft-melancholy indie-pop had been hailed by critics, the contrasting personalities and differing artistic sensibilities between him and collaborative partner Laura Burhenn were overwhelming. "Around the time the album came out, I was like, 'I can't do this anymore,'" he says. "It was almost never any fun."
They couldn't just up and quit, though, because they still had to tour and promote the album. And so they played months of dates in Europe and the U.S. – even "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" – before breaking up. Still, Davis was able to make the best of that time by penning material for his new album, It Was Easy, which was just released under the moniker of his solo project, Title Tracks. "The songs were written at a time when I was feeling disappointed, angry and resentful," he says. "It enabled me to tap into other times in my life when I was feeling like that."
The disc is not as depressing as it sounds, though. While the lyrics often focus on relationship discord – "Tell me again how you wouldn't have tried/To disappoint me or tell me a lie/Now all you have left is a bird without songs," Davis sings on the, um, title track – his melodies almost always lighten the mood. Doing most of the singing and playing nearly all of the instruments, he concocts bubbly, hummable ditties with ease and fills them with springy choruses and plenty of "Oooh ahhh oooohs!" whenever things get slow.
His songwriting recalls the gloomy-but-groovy style of such hippie-era groups as the Bryds. Indeed, Davis even covers the Byrds' song "She Don't Care About Time." He also takes on Bruce Springsteen's "Tougher Than the Rest," with Camera Obscura's Tracyanne Campbell on backing vocals. As he did with Georgie James, Davis is still concerned with articulately expressing the frustration and disenchantment buried inside of him. To his credit, the tunes themselves ring with joy.