Your Silver Shined
There are only a handful of
musicians good enough to pack the house with other
musicians, and Devon Sproule is one. She is a magnet to them
as much as music is a magnet to her. B.J. Cole knows.
Legendary pedal steel player with 70s country rockers
Swallow and much sought after session man, Cole seeks
Sproule out when she visits the UK and backs her up whenever
the chance arises. Austin's Danny Schmidt, a talent in his
own right, says simply, “It's a good thing she's such
a sweetheart or we'd all hate her.” And Paul Curreri
says... but Curreri is tied to Sproule by marriage and we
all know that whatever he says cannot be used in a court of
why the attraction? Take a look at the photos on Sproule's
website and check out those fingers splayed across the neck
of the guitar like octopus tentacles. Sample a few tracks
from her albums on her Myspace page and listen closely to
that mature but little girl voice. Hear those chord
progressions and try to remember when, or if, you've heard
them before. I tell you, as much her music makes you
comfortable, it drags you into new territory at every turn.
Call what she does pop jazz, or folk pop jazz, or poppy jazz
folk and you would only be partly correct. When push comes
to shove, most will agree, Sproule plays Sproule, which
should be the subtitle of this excellent album.
The truly amazing thing
about Keep Your Silver Shined is the ease with
which Sproule approaches her songs. Fully confident and
incredibly competent, her fingers float over the strings of
her guitar (and banjo one one track--- you have to love
that--- jazz banjo?) more like a masseuse than a musician.
Chords drift or slice or chop through the ether depending
upon mood and need, and even Devon Sproule leads breathe
lounge jazz into a piece or two. She can play, no doubt
about it, and hold her own with the big boys.
She can sing as well and,
again, with that confidence and ease which almost disarms
you as a mere listener and turns you into fan. And through
her songs we learn all about Devon Sproule and her love of
Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains, her love of music and
her love of, well, life. Old Virginia Block is a
light folk jazz tribute to home, upbeat and hearty. Let's
Go Out playfully takes a lighthearted look at a night
out to relieve boredom (check out Sproule's masterful and
understated guitar), and Stop By Anytime mixes jazz
standard with voice and produces a truly wistful feel. It
doesn't get any folkier on the album than Paul Curreri's
Eloise and Alex, a beautiful track which
allows Sproule and Curreri to meld voices, something they
should consider doing more often.
Two tracks really caught my
ear, though: Dress Sharp, Play Well, Be Modest, with
a lazy afternoon, God-but-ain't-it-hot-today presentation
carried along by the fine pedal steel of Charlie Bell (and,
again, the spot-on Sproule guitar), and the one track not
jazz-influenced, a modern presentation of the fine old
traditional tune , The Weeping Willow (Curreri's
guitar on this one track is worth the price of the CD
alone). Beautiful tracks, both, and as major league as it
Though this is a Devon
Sproule project, it is not all Devon Sproule. She surrounds
herself with a great array of musicians and the production
and mixing by Jeff Romano is totally thumbs up. You know
what they say about a village these days.
Really, I'm inspired. This
is not my kind of music, or so I thought, and then again
I've never heard it done this good. Because of this, I've
added three things to my list of things to do before I die:
1: See the Blue Ridge Mountains; 2: Drink Starr Hill Amber
and hear Sandy Grey's guitar; and 3: check out Paul Curreri.
As good as this album is, I figure if Devon Sproule married
him, he must have something to offer beyond the norm. As
good as this music is, I figure that's not far from wrong.
Frank Gutch Jr.