Growing up: Devon's new CD goes Upstate

By my calculations, Devon Sproule, or “Devon” as she’s better known around town, is at most 21 years old. She’s been written about in The Village Voice and The New Yorker, has toured nationally, and June 1 will mark the CD release party for her third album, Upstate Songs.
If that doesn’t give a kick in the butt to a certain category of (not really struggling) struggling musicians (the type half-watching Ricki Lake reruns on their parents’ couch while they’re read this), nothing will.
From her roots in the nearby Twin Oaks commune to belting out songs on the Downtown Mall at age 15, Devon’s rise to near-stardom has been intrinsically linked to Charlottesville. She has seemed, at least for the last half-decade, to always be around, playing a coffeeshop here, a record store there, her near-constant presence at least a little taken for granted by our town’s residents. But her new album, Upstate Songs, just might turn the heads of the doubters.
Written in Woodstock, New York, the songs on her new album show maturity beyond her years, but also stand distinctly apart from those on her previous two releases. Where the songs that I’ve heard from her second release, 2001’s Long Sleeve Story (Third World Records), were more along the lines of Fiona Apple, possessing that certain darkness endemic to the Maya Angelou-loving songstress, the new album has a lighter, folkier feel.
This might have something to do with her close connection to Paul Curreri, the country/rock/folk musician (and personal favorite), who co-produced the album with Devon, and is also her label-mate.
On track 2, “Come Comet or Dove,” Devon sings in her sweet voice, “The heat had set in as the summer began/ I had just ceased to sing winder’s sore tune,” as softly strummed country-folk guitar, backed by even softer lead provided by Curreri (the local guitar master, I am convinced), provide an exquisite background.
The melody is long and winding, but that’s a strength here rather than a deficit, and Devon shows total control of it at every point. Drums enter the fray on only one track of Upstate Songs, “Should Have Been Snow,” a song which harks back somewhat to some of the more rock-influenced pieces on her previous release.
“White Kite at Georgetown Green” is probably the most upbeat song on the album, a lovers’ tune (unless I’m much mistaken), both catchy and touching, and one of the few tunes here on which Devon really opens up vocally-– and this is definitely a good thing.
So come one, come all, to the Devon Sproule CD Release Concert-– the cast will be a good one, and the music– well, let’s just say it’ll be something you don’t want to miss.

Devon Sproule Hometown CD Release Concert, Sunday, June 1, with Paul Curreri, Jeff Romano, and April Leightty at Live Arts LAB Space. $12/$10 advance, 7pm.

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