On the Edge: Brian Davis

photo by Arlis Albritton/Full On Management

If you made it out to one of Brantley Gilbert’s early Hell on Wheels Tour stops, you might have seen Brian Davis. The two are frequent co-writers and close pals, but there’s another reason Brantley chose him to open his shows: Brian is as fearless in performance as he is in songwriting, which is to say pretty darn fearless. “I have no problem going outside the lines and talking about things that may be uncomfortable,” Brian says. “A lot of times some artists, some writers may stop short of that.” 

His newest album, Under the Influence—he’s recorded six in all—has plenty of that edge to it. But Brian admits that the line is constantly moving. “One Good Beer was the first album we had out and I thought, ‘Man, this is really on the edge. This is 2005 and people are going to back up off of this stuff,’” he recalls. And it was. Friends who wanted to cover tracks from the project were told by their record labels that the tunes were too aggressive for country at that time. By his third album, BD3, Brian had a little more of life figured out. “That was more of me understanding that love needed to be in more songs,” he says with a laugh before thoughtfully adding, “It isn’t always about just tearing things apart; sometimes it’s about putting them together.” 

Under the Influence strikes a balance between the two extremes and is more of a composite of all the things that Brian does best, while also being a bit of a musical biography of the singer/songwriter. He explains. “It’s all of the influences that brought my music together. I think it’s important to pay tribute to those guys because I am, just like everybody in front of or behind us, a product of what influenced me.” 

Those influences are all on display in Brian’s songs, which range from the in-your-face “Bang, Bang” (sample lyric: Bang, bang, drank, drank, yeah we’re shooting everything) to the wistful yet edgy “Lights of My Hometown” and the acoustically aching ballad “Against the World.” “I grew up hearing Gene Autry, Alabama and Hank,” he says, “but still I was a reckless, rebellious redneck, so I’d find myself listening to AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses. As well as reggae acts like Peter Tosh and Bob Marley. I’m just a fan and I love music.”

True, a little bit country, a little bit rock ’n’ roll, and even a little bit of reggae and hip-hop can be heard on Under the Influence. Says Brian, “I think this album is the culmination of all of this madness to date.”

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