Like all genres, country music has undergone its latterday progressions, but some manifestations have been vastly more out of the envelope than others. Don't Hurry for Heaven is one of them, and Devon Sproule could hardly have chosen a better bandmate than B.J. Cole to assist. Cole has been on many stellar releases and well esteemed for his elegance. Here, though, he'll have to slide over and share the spotlight with Sproule, 'cause she has something even more special.
Most decidedly a twangy country singer, she nonetheless takes the form in a direction it's never been, gratifyingly blending broad swaths of folk with touches of very subtle café jazz and very finessily expressed experimentality, deftly bending and elasticizing her lines and register to circle back to their origins. Thus, don't be surprised that Richie Havens invited her on tour; he, after all, was a folk experimenteer way back when and recognizes kindred spirits. Then there's Jesse Winchester showing up on Ain't That the Way. That boy's just as infamous: think merely of Twigs and Seeds.
Husband/producer Paul Curreri takes the lead vocals in Sponji Reggae, a surprisingly Marty Balinesque cut that reaches back even to Grace Slick's Lather, a languid gem of lightly arabesqued airs, my favorite cut here. Not too surpising, either, is the fact that Ms. Sproule copped last year's ASCAP-endowed Sammy Cahn Award for lyrics, not surprising at all, given the many other sterling attributes so evident in Heaven. Thus, the closing A Picture of Us is the perfect mellow-down denouement to a very attractive release and sets us to sleepy-bye with a seraphic glow on our smiling faces.
And as a little inside info for FAME readers that 99% of my compeer crits aren't aware of: Cole was a member of the 70s one-shot group Cochise. Good luck locating the vinyl, and I've never heard of a CD reissue, but should you chance upon it, it's interesting. And a collectible.