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Positivity and creativity: Australian songwriter Ethan Davis’ ‘Stars Aligning’

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As any songwriter knows – or any person who listens to music, for that matter – it’s difficult to write songs with a positive message that aren’t trite.

 

On Stars Aligning, Australian songwriter Ethan Davis does just that, and from the very first song. The upbeat pop/rock of lead single and opening track “Colours” has some serious U2 vibes. It’s a classic sounding opening track.

 

The musicianship throughout Stars Aligning is ear-catching, especially the bass, as is true on “Colours” and the following track, mellower “Your Best Days.” As a songwriter I always appreciate relative minor chord changes, and on this track they’re especially affecting. The positive message is refreshing: “all this time you’ve been wondering why/the good luck would never appear/and all your life you’ve been waiting for now/coz your best days are finally here.”

 

Let “Your Best Days” be your theme song. You deserve it.

 

Second single “The Girl Who Travelled the World” is similarly sunny, and features some cool layers of synths, in addition to another engaging chord progression. The bass is again a highlight on “Open My Heart,” both the fluid part and its tone. The keys and harmonies are also a highlight.

 

Acoustic oriented “Blank Space” is a nice change of pace from the more upbeat, poppier songs. It’s still catchy, though. It’s also the perfect “end of side one” track, and as it comes halfway through the album, it makes sense from a sequencing perspective.

 

Turning the LP or tape over in your mind (choose your own adventure), “Moonlight” begins side two with a slightly more contemplative take on the pop/rock feel of the album, as it should. Affecting breakup song “Close the Doors” is a highlight of the album songwriting-wise, especially lyrically:

 

We had something beautiful

But it’s no longer there

So now we walk away once again

This time it really is goodbye

But you gotta close the doors

It’s the only way you can ever move on

You’re never gonna change the past

You gotta leave that behind

It’s better than living with it in your mind

 

Like the best lyrics, it evokes emotion in a simple and straightforward way.

Another dynamic bass riff opens “The Lessons I Have Learned.” The guitar fills throughout are a nice touch.

 

The positive message of “Your Life is Worth Living” is in the lyrical vein of “Your Best Days” but has more of a Jayhawks edge. Moody acoustic “Down in Flames” continues Stars Aligning’s expert sequencing, as it is the perfect closing track for an album. Though slightly darker in tone, it still ultimately has a positive message: “If I go down in flames/at least I gave it all.” It has another great chord progression, too.

 

It isn’t an easy feat, but Ethan Davis expertly combines positivity and creativity, and all without sounding saccharine, effortlessly on Stars Aligning.

Erik Ritland is a songwriter and journalist from Nashville, Tennessee. He's released 13 records and EPs, most recently 2021's innovative movie album Old Dog Almost Gone. His journalism has been featured on Something Else! Reviews, Music in Minnesota, and more, and his articles have been shared by members of bands as diverse as KISS, the Monkees, Son Volt, and Low Cut Connie.