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Photograph by Sheila Ryan

Stuart Davis gets silver and bold.

Wake-Up Call

Stuart Davis celebrates the feminine divine on 'Bell'

By Sarah Quelland

THE RECORD IS ABOUT the explosion of the feminine divine as the second coming of Christ taking place. But this time, she's Buddhist, she's sexy and she's not messing around," singer/songwriter Stuart Davis explains. His latest concept album, Bell, is his most challenging offering yet. Marriage and the impending birth of his daughter, Ara, inspired Davis, who says the album is not only about the feminine divine waking up the masculine but also about men finding the feminine qualities within themselves and achieving a balance.

"I worked very hard making sure the album did not come out as some New Age version of the Goddess," he emphasizes. "I'm not singing about the sage-burning Earth Mother of myths and rituals. I'm specifically singing about Dakinis, which are fiery, awakened female Bodhisattvas in the Buddhist tradition who will kiss you, kick you, kill you--whatever it takes to wake you up."

That boldness of spirit is dolled up as a "meta-model Barbiesattva" with a "lotta Prada-prana" in his blazing hard-pop number "Sexy Messiah": "She's comin', she's comin', she's comin' to the planet / Check it out dammit / All the light will bake your body / She's got big watts of love / She's so badass / She's back at last / You gotta praise the fuckin' Lord."

Davis is deeply immersed in Buddhist traditions, and he practices an hour of Zazen meditation daily. He's known for his Trojan Horse strategy of using fluffy and funny lyrics as bait to get people to listen to his messages of awakening and awareness. But of all his 10 albums, BelI seems the least diluted for mainstream consumption.

He sings of entering the mystery on "Smoke," of being awakened and reborn by the love of a woman on "Human Girl" and of the birth of his daughter on the acoustic "Ara Belle," a lovely song by mesmerized father in awe of his new baby girl. Still, Davis' twisted pop vision comes through on the graphically perverse and freaky "Wizard," which is a commentary on celebrities and celebrity worship: "All of the ogres are havin' an orgy / They're pluckin' the feathers off a' the angels / We battle our boredom by building a kingdom / And sucking some stardom through a crack in a condom."

Equally radical and spiritual, the subversive Davis is a masterful lyricist, vocalist and guitarist, and he's something of a mad genius. He founded his own label, Dharma Pop (formerly Bright Apocalypse) by selling shares in his records to investors. For years, he's been crusading for his beloved home state of Minnesota to become a free nation. Now, he says he's constructing his own language, which he calls IS, some of which is visible on Bell's cover art. He says his daughter's name means "Beautiful Sounding of the Over-Soul" (which ultimately helps raise the "pitch" of the planet) in his new language, and he's already teaching IS to her.

Davis' philosophy is "love has no opposite," and he honors the love, strength, nurturing and healing powers women are capable of possessing. "An authentically awakened woman is a rare entity at this time," he asserts. "But what's worse is our inability to bring ourselves to a place where we can begin to learn and benefit from what they have to offer--which turns out to be precisely what we're going to need if we have any aspirations toward continuing to exist as a species."

WINDING UP: Congratulations go out to Strata (formerly downside) which just signed with Wind-Up Records, home to Creed, Seether and Evanescence. Vocalist Eric Victorino says, "We're so happy to have found what we feel is the perfect home for our music. They're extremely supportive and understanding, very passionate, and I think they get what we're all about." Known for vast music, poetic lyrics and desperate vocals, the Campbell-based group plays the Santa Clara Basement next Saturday (Nov. 1).

HOT TOPIC: Fighting Jacks' Tooth & Nail debut, The Dying Art of Life, came out Tuesday (Oct. 21) and the band plays the Portable at 590 Shawnee Lane in San Jose this Saturday (Oct. 25). ... Insolence shares material from its forthcoming album, Stand Strong, at the Edge this Friday (Oct. 24) with Lica Sto, 7th Standard and Called to Ruin. ... New local world-fusion band Sanama releases its new CD, Opening Doors, this Saturday (Oct. 25) at the Agenda.

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From the October 23-29, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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