Like a Joni Mitchell or a Rickie Lee Jones, Devon Sproule makes distinctive and uncompromising music that ex- presses her unique sensibility and vision. Her quivery, almost childlike singing hark- ens back to a classic scratchy country record played on a Victrola phonograph. Defying genre, her melodies touch on Gos- pel, Appalachian and old-timey jazz figures but then veer off into unexpected chord changes and hints of reggae or African rhythms. Her songs take a sly and irrever- ent but warmly amused look at ordinary domestic life, with lyrics that meander con- versationally rather than telling a story from front to back.
Some of the songs are simple snapshots: “Healthy Parents, Happy Couple” describes a family drive; “A Picture of Us in the Gar- den” is a meandering conversation among friends in a backyard; and “Good to Get Out” is a high-octane road song. Some tell more of a story: “Julie” is an elegiac memory piece about a college friend, and “You Need a Maria” is a bit of romantic advice, explain- ing the consequences when “you don’t do it right when the right one goes by.” There is also a honey-dipped, countrified cover of Black Uhuru’s “Sponji Reggae.”
The album was recorded in North- amptonshire, England, with Devon’s road band, and is produced by Devon’s husband, Paul Curreri, who also adds keyboards, guitar, banjo and vocals. British pedal-steel virtuoso B.J. Cole, whose credits run from Elton John to R.E.M. to Sting, adds a yearn- ing sound that complements the songs per- fectly. — SS