Ethan Davidson’s new album, Come Down Lonesome, will be available Aug. 21.
Some 25 years ago, when Ethan Daniel Davidson was a touring singer-songwriter-instrumentalist, he spent time in a remote area of Alaska to think through the direction of his life.
From his cabin, Davidson hiked and chopped wood in-between reading the Jewish philosophy of Martin Buber and the verses of Yukon poet Robert Service.
The long-term impact of those experiences come together in the title song of his new album, Come Down Lonesome, available Aug. 21 on LP, CD and digital download. The album features other original and cover songs.
“I got the title from a line in Martin Buber’s book I and Thou,” Davidson explained about mulling over connections to God. “Buber says, ‘Come down Lonesome One to the lonesome,’ and I was really moved by that.
“I didn’t use that song for years, but as I thought about it and the kind of songs we selected for this recording — old folk songs about loneliness, introspection or longing for some kind of connection — that seemed to be expressed by the idea ‘Come Down Lonesome One’ and be with us lonesome folk down here.”
After working on the album for two years, Davidson thinks of the title song as especially appropriate with people isolating because of COVID-19.
“I think about all the people who live alone,” he said. “How difficult must that be for them. I hope everybody [else] out there is keeping them in mind.”
Davidson also is director and Grants Committee chair of the William Davidson Foundation and chairman of the Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) Board of Directors and Trustees. He moved away from touring before the pandemic and has been isolating with his wife, album producer and instrumentalist Gretchen Gonzales Davidson, and their children.
“We were focusing on putting the album out in March or April, and then the pandemic hit,” said Davidson, 50. “We thought we’d wait another six months and see what happens. Either life would get back to normal, or we’d try to think of some different way of releasing this without doing anything public.”
Davidson’s track selections include songs considered for previous albums, essentially at the discretion of his wife along with fellow producer Warren Defever.
Among the nine tracks are personalized versions of Bob Dylan’s “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine” and Charlie Rich’s “I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water.”
One Davidson original that brings a different sound among the folk arrangements is “Someday I’ll Be Caught.” It’s about looking for an enduring romantic relationship, and the melody is reminiscent of torch songs.
Davidson, who enjoys all kinds of musical styles, can be heard playing various instruments as one track moves into another — guitar, banjo, organ, hurdy-gurdy, didgeridoo and cello banjo.
And he still has that cabin in Alaska. Just in case solitude beckons.