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Minneapolis-based Davina Sowers is back with her fourth album with the Vagabonds (finally recorded in a “proper studio” according to the album liner notes!). The band holed up in Nashville’s Compass Sound Studio with producer Garry West, along with her trumpeter, string arranger and husband, Zack Lozier, and a rotating cast of powerhouse players.

Sugar Drops is distillation of bluesy barroom baritone and bravado, graveyard jazz grooves, and noir-ish confessional lyricism backed by boisterous piano, guitar, and strings. Eclectic, engaging and instilled with a deep respect and knowledge for the Great American Songbook, the album is the actualization of longstanding intent for Davina. “It represents about 100 years of Americana; I did exactly what I wanted to do,” she says. Davina and the band have toured throughout the world and earned feverish acclaim from the Chicago Tribune, NPR, and more in addition to performing on BBC’s international favorite late-night program Later… with Jools Holland and appearing on PBS’s Bluegrass Underground.

West and Lozier get the sonic mix just right, putting Davina’s malleable voice — that morphs from childlike to brassy within the same sentence — out front where it belongs. Although this is Davina’s first major/indie disc, the band has been around in one form or another since 2006, and the work they put in shows in every track. This music, as retro as it may be at times, feels fun, frisky and alive. No big concepts, no heavy lyrics, just Davina and her band swinging with spirited energy and terrific songs.