On September 9th, singer-songwriter Elise Davis will release her debut album, The Token, an intense and personal look at a woman who experiences the inner turmoil of wavering between wanting to remain independent while also yearning for real love and commitment. Produced by Sam Kassirer, The Token begins with the title track (which leaves one wondering where being “the token” is more pronounced), and is followed by thirteen additional songs that are replete with no holds barred, gritty stories simmering with a dark undercurrent, smoldering sensuality and a sense of vulnerability and questioning.
In its narratives, The Token is home to fleshed out, yet complicated females dealing with the realities of love and relationships. There’s the waitress in “Benefits” who looks on – with skepticism or jealousy or a mix of both - a couple in love noting that she prefers beer drinking, pot smoking and having a friend with benefits who shows up with a “whiskey and a smile…and that’s just my style” even though she’s warned that “this kind of love is surely venomous;” the “Pretty Girl” whose almost joyous, retro melody carries along the story of one woman advising another on how she helped her by her indiscretions with her man, “It’s not a game that you lost/It’s just a bullet that you dodged/A train wreck that you got off;” and an ex-couple in the stripped back “I Like It” whose undeniable chemistry sparks when they meet at a party.
The dichotomy of wanting freedom and commitment is sensed again in the doo-wop flavored “I Just Want Your Love,” as well as in “Penny” who has zero qualms about engaging in a relationship that has no strings attached; while the opposite is found in “Motel Room” where she sadly aches for more than just the occasional rendezvous, “I’ll pretend the way it doesn’t bother me/At least tonight your heart is beating a little faster with my touch,” and “Diamond Days” as she second guesses leaving a relationship, “I chose to take my time/She chose to take his name/Someday I might wish I would have done the same” ultimately deciding, “Who am I kidding?”
Davis embraces true happiness in “Finally” (the only lighthearted song on the record) where she realizes what’s in front of her and paints a blissful picture of birds singing, coffee brewing and dust dancing in the sunlight before returning to embodying the femme fatale in the guitar heavy “Make The Kill” where she conquers another man to get over an ex (and maybe have a little revenge). But it’s perhaps the final two songs where Davis is the most vulnerable. A stunningly impactful and hopeful piano ballad, “A Love I Can Rely On” relates the story of a new relationship where she lays out exactly what she wants, “It’s new, but it’s something I wanna get used to/So if u want every little piece of me/Honey you should know exactly what I need…I want a love built to last not a fire that freezes when the flowers fall and the cold winds blow” while the closer, “I Go To Bars and Get Drunk” finds her reverting back to the bar, drinking in whiskey, stale cigarettes, and judgment. And although she doesn’t mind being alone, one gets the feeling that she does mind being lonely in love…and it hurts. “Sometimes I think you can think about it too much/So I just go to bars and get drunk.”
The Token is a painstakingly honest look at the female struggles intertwining love, relationships, and commitment that, imbued with a myriad of emotions, make for a record that is all at once completely raw, real and relatable.