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Devon Sproule & the Unmarked Animals - 6th June 2011

Artist's website:

Devon Sproule:

Sproule's first UK release, Keep Your Silver Shined, proved an indie hit for her Coventry-based label Tin Angel Records, topping year-end lists, landing her a spot on Later...with Jools Holland, and inspiring many a Brit to google "Virginia."

Paste Magazine called Silver “The sexiest, sultriest southern album since Lucinda’s Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.”

Since its emergence in 2007, Tin Angel Records has become a small but successful label, home to artists including Sproule, Curreri, Baby Dee, Sean Hayes, Black Carrot, Trumpets of Death, Fabrizio Modense Palumbo, Julia Kent, and others. "The label roster is like our record collection at home," Sproule says, "not a lot of current ‘folkies,’ just folks who are doing something different... usually a bit weird, a bit private, and always really good.

Shit, I think I might be the most normal one on there! And that's kind've saying a lot."

Review of the show:- Paul Rhodes, York Evening Press

EVERY SO OFTEN a performer comes along who reaffirms all that is great about live music.

The ambitious American is touring with a British band assembled from her label Tin Angel Records, notably Joe Carvell and Andy Whitehead; both superb. Sproule talked at the interval of spending too long touring to keep on playing the same types of song.

She seemed to revel in the freedom of a different set of musicians. Such was the empathy between them, the improvised setlist seemed to spur them to greater heights. Stylishly decked out in blue, Sproule showcased, and surpassed the recorded versions of songs from her new album – I Love You, Go Easy.

The wonderful first half shone with wit, variety and musicality. From excursions into the impressionistic folk / jazz terrain sketched out by Joni Mitchell on Hejira, to the sort of wordplay and idiosyncratic vocal stylings so beloved of Ricky Lee Jones and Jolie Holland, going as far as the unexpectedly louche groove of The Unmarked Animals (the name of her backing band). The second half was enjoyable and ultimately humorous, but didn’t scale anything like the same heights as Sproule concentrated mostly on her earlier, more conventional material.

Sproule is far more interesting than her country pigeon hole suggests, an artist bent on reinvention. For her sins, Sproule spends a great deal of time in the Midlands (where her label resides), and while by her own admission not the most prolific of songwriters, she has picked a clutch of great songs by lesser known writers – the pick of which was Anais Mitchell’s Flowers– and like those she champions, Sproule deserves far greater recognition.