Northern Californian scenester Bart Davenport's musical career reads like a history of groovy-white-boy pop. In his early days, the Bay Area crooner donned suit and harmonica in The Loved Ones, a garage-mod revival that would have to fend off major labels and major ladies if it existed in today's post-Stripes environ. Next, with The Kinetics, Davenport went for the blue-eyed soul angle, making him a San Francisco phenomenon. His 2002 solo debut, Bart Davenport, showed the singer increasingly influenced by Burt Bacharach, Gram Parsons and a breezy West Coast vibe.
There's plenty of that on Game Preserve, but also plenty more: the sensitive anglophile and McCartney-ite ("Summer in Her Hair," "Sideways Findways"), Mexicali coffeeshop acoustics ("Sweetest Game"), and the moves of CCR, Bread, and other '70s FM hammock-shakers. The album's finest moment comes when Davenport channels not just the sound, but the soul of Street Choir-era Van Morrison on "Euphoria or Everyone on Earth Is So Beautiful, Even You." Californian luminaries from groups such as Cake, Preston School of Industry, Call and Response, and others join Davenport to make this a sort of statewide group effort. By the time you get to the hopelessly bright, chilled-out harmonies of "My Brother Woody," even blizzard-bound New Englanders will be in shades and trunks, catching rays and maybe a Bacardi on the roof.