wears the trousers magazine

devon sproule: ¡don’t hurry for heaven! (2009)
June 21, 2009, 10:32 am
Filed under: album, review | Tags: , , ,


Devon Sproule
¡Don’t Hurry For Heaven! ••••
Tin Angel 

Devon Sproule speaks for many musicians who struggle to find a creative path in life. Living a rural existence outside Charlottesville, Virginia, she tells of a perpetual balancing act between her music and the demands of everyday life, marriage, and a low income. The risk of failure is ever present, but so is the sense of fulfilment gained by following your art. Her new album perhaps expresses these dilemmas and jubilations more poetically than ever, and she has also managed to forge a clearer sense of aesthetic cohesion. ¡Don’t Hurry For Heaven! yields a mixture of parlour folk, Americana, and even reggae, while her husband and music partner, Paul Curreri, provides sumptuous lead guitar and backing vocals. Curreri features in the album lyrically, too, for much of Sproule’s storytelling is based around relationships and married life. On ‘Ain’t That The Way’, for example, she wryly observes of his beloved vintage guitar: “If you love me even half as much as your old Martin / you should be practising on me just about every…oh”.

The desire for respectability as a musician is keenly expressed on a cover of Black Uhuru’s ‘Spoonji Reggae’, with its sublime melody and simple chorus. At one point, she attempts to justify the career path she has chosen: “they say go and make work, instead of making lazy” – to which she adds, “but I say there’s time for every style”. The tune makes a perfect accompaniment to the summer, with its lilting back-beat, dreamy slide guitar and yearning jazz chords. In ‘Ain’t That The Way’, we gain little vignettes of life on the road: from the little things like sleeping in their clothes to a wider acceptance of a little bit of dirt and chaos in life. There is a sense of loneliness of the lower league musician, driving miles to play a gig in the middle of nowhere, listening to late-night radio in the car through the early hours of the morning. Sproule also has a wonderful ability to weave serious issues into deceptively bucolic and pretty language. On ‘Healthy Parents, Happy Couple’, innocent descriptions of domestic life and childhood cleverly mask more serious ruminations on mortality and the process of aging.

¡Don’t Hurry For Heaven! is a real gem for existing Sproule followers and should also win her new fans; there are some beautifully arranged songs here that bring to mind the genuine greats of country rock, anyone from Emmylou Harris to Gene Clark. It’s pretty close to perfection in fact, though her wordiness can sometimes overwhelm an otherwise infectious melody, as is the case with ‘Bowling Green’. This is, of course, a subjective view since much of Sproule’s charm lies in the opacity of her words and music. Ultimately, she follows her own groove, and while she might complain that “the business won’t give us a buck” she can be assured that, creatively, she is richer than ever before.

Dan Everett
UK release date: 04/05/09; www.myspace.com/devonsproule

‘Don’t Hurry For Heaven’ [live]


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