On first listen, Devon Sproule’s Don’t Hurry for Heaven is every bit as lighthearted as the flowery hat the singer wears on its cover, and seemingly as lightweight, too. Full of songs about love and gardening and the musician’s life, it appears to be a sequence of diary jottings underpinned by music that’s an amiable blend of pop, folk, jazz, and country. In fact, it doesn’t seem like much at all—until you play it again, and the depths kick in.
It’s a sleeper. And maybe, Sproule suggests, that’s because she does her best work when she’s a bit sleepy, too.
“I love it when my brain kind of turns off, and I’m just experiencing shit through my senses rather than thinking about it,” she says with a chuckle, reached in Austin, Texas, where she’s playing five shows in four days as part of the annual South by Southwest music conference. “That’s a little bit lazy, because your brain isn’t working and you’re not stimulating yourself; you’re being a little mindless or brainless or something. But it just relaxes me.”
It’s in this relaxed state, she adds, that songs arrive—songs that might seem mainly concerned with domestic bliss, but that soon reveal a bittersweet edge. In “Ain’t That the Way”, for instance, she’s singing about her good job and her good man, but her good man’s a musician too, and with both of them on the road, they’re often apart. “A Picture of Us in the Garden” is also appropriately homey and warm; the Ontario-born but American-raised Sproule happily notes that she can’t imagine living anywhere other than Charlottesville, Virginia. The snake in this Eden, though, is the economic uncertainty that’s keeping the singer and her husband from starting a family. “I guess it’s lucky,” she concludes, “I’m still pretty young.”
Sproule contends that her songs pale next to those that her partner and producer Paul Curreri writes. “His songs have kind of big ideas in them, and they have other worlds in them, in sort of a spiritual way,” she says. “Mine are much more sensual, I guess. But that’s me versus him, so it kind of makes sense.”
It’s not that the 28-year-old performer isn’t ambitious, though. Compared to her 2007 effort Keep Your Silver Shined, which Sproule describes as a “front-porch Virginia panorama”, Don’t Hurry for Heaven is both formally inventive—especially on the stream-of-consciousness word-gush that is “Healthy Parents, Happy Couple”—and musically eclectic, thanks in part to a moody cover of Black Uhuru’s classic “Sponji Reggae”. Sproule may indeed be young, but she’s growing up fast.