I Love You, Go Easy
Devon Sproule ploughs a particularly introspective furrow on I Love You, Go Easy. From the outset, it is clear that this is designed to be an album in the traditional sense of the word; the songs it contains are thematically linked, all glint with the same sonic sheen and there is even a bonus number hidden after the final track – a nice piece of pre-download-era nostalgia. Much of the time Sproule comes across like a slightly quirkier, Topanga Canyon-era Joni Mitchell.
The dreamy shimmer, irregular phasing and internal rhymes of opener “If I Can Do This,” set the tone for proceedings. Sproule is a subtly beguiling songstress; while on first listen the track is pleasant if unremarkable it ultimately has an almost hypnotic quality that draws the listener back time and again. Swirling organs, flute and distant-sounding drums lend an ethereal, soundtrack-ish feel. The piano-led title track builds on this atmosphere; it succeeds in being equal parts coffeehouse confessional and soulful workout.
A cover of The Roches’ “Runs in the Family” is an achingly beautiful, slow-paced heartbreaker, while “The Warning Bell” could count as a troubadour’s anthem. It sounds pretty and dreamlike, while lines like,I’ll work a while in music til my money runs out point to a darker side. It concludes, however, as a paean to the road.
The album’s standout track is undoubtedly “Now’s the Time”, a gorgeous country waltz. It’s bouncy, easy on the ear and effortlessly cool with an original approach to instrumentation that shrugs off any suspicion of pastiche. It has elements of the gallows-style humour that is present throughout the album.
This is a phenomenally interesting record but it’s not without its flaws. While unpredictable chord patterns and irregular internal rhymes are a strength, there are times when the listener longs for something just a little more hummable. Sproule, perhaps as a result of her upbringing (on a commune) is clearly a free spirit and original thinker; on occasion it seems she tries too hard to remind the listener of this. However, there is something captivating that sparkles throughout this aural journey and the artist’s strength of character is effortlessly conveyed in every song. Even before an appearance on “Later…with Jools Holland” Sproule’s star was in the ascendancy and, this album suggests, it should clearly continue rising.