The Fleece, Bristol
16th October 2013
To support her recently released album Devon Sproule came over to the UK to tour earlier this month and Louder Than War caught her at the Bristol date.
Last month Canadian’s Devon Sproule and Mike O’ Neill released their collaborative album, ‘Colours’. It is a beautiful pairing recorded in Mike’s native Canada with songs that are both subdued and revelatory. The idea sprung out of what Devon calls the ‘Low-Key Karaoke’ project in which she cuts video and songs together with someone else’s inclusion. After much coaxing, Mike recorded one and the album grew from this experiment.
An explanation cursively mentions that Mike won’t be playing for ‘personal issues’ on the Facebook events page, which is fair enough, we wouldn’t want to pry and the show must go on. Devon isn’t missing a band thankfully as Toronto’s Bernice featuring singer, Robin Dann on keyboard and backing vocals, provide a great live presentation of the album’s subtle nature.
No Mike though.
Devon’s musical career began when she was sixteen with the release of ‘Devon’ and a support slot with The Dave Matthews Band brought her into a new sphere of musical collaborators and co-conspirators. Over the past years, Devon has vowed to keep things fresh and keep moving forward and with each album she delivers something different. It’s her driving ambition and undoubted natural talent that got her noticed so that she featured on the BBC’s Jools Holland Show in 2008. Vocally she could be compared to Edie Brickell or even Joni Mitchell and the music she produces sounds like a hybrid of seventies singer / songwriters with her obvious Jazz Pop leanings.
The band and Devon bring a very likable charm to the stage as they perform a great selection of album tracks and older material from the, ‘I Love You, Go Easy’ album. A laid back familiar tone with pitch precision and characterful delivery make Devon’s voice a pleasure to listen to. The album tracks such as, ‘The Fan’ and ‘The Shallow End’ don’t suffer from the loss of Mike because Rachel Dann and the band truly supported, fleshing out these live presentation of songs with some great bass playing from a tall and bearded gent (sorry didn’t catch his name) who really rides the groove of melody, letting Devon’s jazzy finger work and confessional lyrics delivering memorable moments such as, ‘Nobody Tells Me A Thing’. Devon affects a hillbilly twang at times to great effect and what little crowd there is here love every moment that her and the band perform.
It’s just a pity Mike wasn’t there.
All words by Philip Allen. More work by Philip can be found in his Louder Than War archive.