Album reviews: Devon Sproule, Adar, Wes Swing, Cream Dream, Gold Connections and Haircut

Album reviews: Devon Sproule, Adar, Wes Swing, Cream Dream, Gold Connections and Haircut

Devon Sproule

The Gold String (Tin Angel)

After time in Texas and England, Devon Sproule’s return to central Virginia was rightly celebrated by local fans of the Canada-born, Twin Oaks-raised singer-songwriter. On The Gold String, Sproule weaves stories rich with touching details (“Here we are, curled in the dark / The last two spoons left in the drawer”), her conversational vocals always central in musical settings ranging from jazzy and chill (“Trees at Your Mom’s” and “Drawing Circles”) to stormy (“Jana” and “More Together”) and hazy (“Listen to This” and “Tree Detail”). A stellar supporting band fills out the texture with chops and taste.


The Rapids (Adar)

Diminutive powerhouse vocalist Adar has gathered an enthusiastic following with her charismatic live shows, and it seems that pretty soon we’ll be talking about “when Adar used to play this tiny bar in Charlottesville.” At shows, the Amy Winehouse vibes are conspicuous, but on The Rapids, classic soul sonics give way to balladry as well as touches of reggae and Cubanismo. Her band delivers tasty trumpet and organ solos and whining steel guitar; Adar’s lyrics are sensorily rich with flavors and textures, and Nate Leath’s production sets everything in the right space.

Wes Swing

And the Heart (Wes Swing)

Wes Swing has heady aspirations for And the Heart, aiming to “create an introspective space that allows folks to rest and connect to themselves…” Composed after a debilitating injury and subsequent depression, the mostly acoustic album sounds steadfast, if not jubilant—several songs are dark and heavy on low strings (Swing’s main instrument is cello). But Swing’s voice is delicate and fluid, floating into upper registers on “Missing Winter” and “Sing to Me”—he imparts a fragility possessed of tensile strength, a little like the gentler moments of Anohni.

Cream Dream

Bright Idea (Cream Dream)

It must be said that Cream Dream sounds like old Sea and Cake, and that’s a good thing. The chord progressions often form melodies in themselves, and singer Max Hoffman sounds like a youthful Sam Prekop. Hoffman’s 20something ponderings rush by in a blur, but that’s mostly to say that here the words serve the tunes, which are worth it. Bassist Garen Dorsey bounces along while drummer Daniel Richardson adds a light but steady touch—the result is stylish indie that creates its own breeze. Play “Wonder Why” and open your windows.

Gold Connections

EP (Fat Possum)

Blog posts about a Charlottesville musician on Fat Possum records raised some eyebrows around here. But indeed, in Gold Connections’ Will Marsh we have a new taxpayer/indie buzz act. These remixed recordings were tracked when Marsh was at William & Mary hanging with Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest—its five servings of self-aware woebegone white boy rock land somewhere between Real Estate and Andrew Cedermark. The songs shift with aplomb from twangy guitar to crashing drums, and Marsh’s broken-in, oft-distorted vocals convey angst while avoiding mawkishness. So when’s the next one?


Criatura (Haircut)

Haircut features some of the most solid citizens of Charlottesville’s DIY scene–singer Juliana Viana and guitarist Daniel Berti have put on umpteen house shows, bringing dozens of bands to town while watering local flowers as well. So it would almost be a civic duty to like this EP, but it’s no struggle—the three songs are a bracing blast of classic punk. Righteous ferocity comes through Viana’s singing whether it’s in English or Spanish, and whether you can decipher the lyrics, which involve “consent, being Latin-American, grief, femininity.” Vital.

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