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Devon Sproule: Making Her Own Path
By Sean Smith
Fort Wayne Reader
Defining Devon Sproule is not in the least bit easy. Unique? Warm. Quirky? Getting warmer. What is certain is that since an early age she has released three very entertaining and energetic collections of songs. Sproule is just days away from releasing her fourth record, Keep Your Silver Shined, and lucky for Fort Wayne she will be here to perform on the eve of that release. Better Productions (a.k.a. Brad Etter) and C2G will be hosting Sproule when she plays on April 16th at 323 West Baker Street at 7:30 p.m. Matt Kelley and Dan Smyth will open the show which will cost $5 at the door.
Sproule was born in Kingston, Ontario but spent her formative years living on a hippie commune. It was while living on the Twin Oaks Commune in Louisa, Virginia that Sproule first played her father's guitar and practiced vocal range as well. Using influences as varied as Bikini Kill, Frank Zappa and The Beatles, Sproule began busking at age 15. By age 16 she had recorded her first album, Devon and it was then released when she was 18.
The album drew enough attention to earn her an opening slot for The Dave Matthews Band in 2000. She formed a friendship with Matthews' bassist Stefan Lessard and he wound up producing and playing on her sophomore release, Long Sleeve Story, in 2001. Sproule then moved to New York and began working on her third album, a decidedly folk album that many of her fans had been anticipating, the appropriately titled Upstate Songs. Soon after the album was released in 2003, Sproule moved back to Virginia and in 2005 married Paul Curreri, a talented singer-songwriter in his own right who has worked with Kelly Joe Phelps numerous times and is about to release his fifth album.
How to describe Sproule's voice and songs are, again, a bit tricky. Snippets of Jenny Lewis, The Ditty Bops and Tegan + Sara all shine through. As do the elements of folk, country and tin pan alley. She considers her new album to be the most confident yet and assigns part of the reason to her recent marriage. She has stated that it has given her the boldness to move on from the 'quasi-confessional' songs of prior albums and head towards more original songwriting. Curreri plays and sings on the album, as does producer Jeff Romano (Corey Harris, Keith Morris, Old School Freight Train) owner of Greenwood Studio in Greenwood, Virginia. Mary Chapin Carpenter adds vocals to Sproule's take on the old traditional “The Weeping Willow.”
Traditional might be a good way to describe Sproule. She's often gussied up in vintage dresses and recently received a 1954 Gibson ES-125 from her husband and friends. Along with the aforementioned recording of “The Weeping Willow,” Sproule also recorded her version of “My Baby Just Cares For Me” on Upstate Songs. One gets a sense that she has a deep respect and interest for by-gone days, but definitely puts her own signature spin on everything she crafts.
It is obvious that we are no closer to having a definition for Sproule or her music and that's plenty fine. Cliché as it may seem, she simply defies one.
w/Matt Kelley & Dan Smyth
Monday, April 16th_@ 7:30pm
323 West Baker Street
$5 Cover All Ages Show