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Davis John Patton is just asking questions

When listening to an artist’s music, it’s not always apparent what their preferred weather is, but it’s obvious from Davis John Patton’s music that he enjoys Iowa winters.

“My unpopular opinion, that other people scoff at, is that I like winter better than summer,” said Patton. “Some people really hate that because, obviously, it's pretty cold in the Iowa winter. But I’m always a little warm, even as my music would present the vibe of winter, a little more coming down, and cool and chill with a fireplace and some coffee.”

It was another so-called “cold weather album” that first made Patton want to be a songwriter years ago: “For Emma, Forever Ago,” the classic album from indie-folk singer-songwriter Bon Iver.

“I remember I was doing an internship. working from home in college and would just listen to music all day, and it came upon it,” said Patton. “It just happened to be on, and I remember listening through it and being like, ‘I think this is the music I was made to listen to. I just loved the vibe of it and the mystery of Bon Iver’s lyrics, and his vocals and stuff. That kind of opened me into the indie-folk genre, as big as it is. Listening to that sort of music was the first time I thought ‘I think I could write some music like this.’”

As Patton delved further into indie-folk, he found himself drawn to music that, in his words, “ask you to make sense of things,” and that “tell stories and ask questions.”

“I found when I got into Bon Iver and a lot of that music, it was very mysterious and it kind of made you wonder like, what is this song talking about?” said Patton. “It made me think about life, about death, and everything in between.”

Davis at Marv's
IPR/Madeleine King
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Ames singer-songwriter Davis John Patton speaks with IPR's Tony Dehner at Marv's Record Shop in Des Moines.

“Before I was writing music, I wasn't really interested in it because I didn't think I had any answers or wisdom to provide to the world,” said Patton. “Realizing that you can write songs that are just kind of ambiguous, not meaningless, but kind of just honest, was very freeing to me.”

Patton’s latest EP, “Songs From Davis,” was released on November 19. The five songs on the EP were written and recorded in 2020. It’s the first of two planned releases that Patton calls “sister EPs.”

“I wrote all the songs during the pandemic, but not necessarily about the, you know, the start of the pandemic,” said Davis. “But I was home, and for a while I wasn't making much music, and wasn't writing much. Then I started to kind of write around some more questions, and thoughts of existence in life, and within it was like a snowballing effect.”

“I wrote one ,and then a few weeks later wrote another, and then like two weeks later wrote one, and then within a week or another, and then it kind of sped up at the end,” said Patton. “And I had this project of songs that I never really expected to write, but it kind of started rolling out.”

Davis John Patton is IPR’s Artist of the Month for December. “Songs From Davis” is available on Spotify and other major streaming services, and some of his earlier releases are on Bandcamp.

If you're an Iowa musician, head over here to learn more about submitting your music for consideration for airplay, and how to apply for the Artist of the Month series.