Devon Sproule, The Burley Griffin, Dirt Baby @ Smiths, Wed 17th Sep, 2014
by James Kent
I watched Dirt Baby Feat. The Blue Angel take to the Smiths stage with interest, as half (yes only half) were dressed in a way that implied Mojo Juju/Amanda Palmer style cabaret was about to get underway, much to the confusion of the megadeth wearing metal head playing guitar up the back. Occasionally lyrically interesting, and with glimpses of stage presence from the corseted top hat wearing leading lady, this is a band that could go places if only they tightened their sound and got the front woman a less ridiculous moniker/found her the gravitas to pull it off.
After a somewhat lacklustre start to the evening, I was quite looking forward to the Burley Griffin; a local Canberra band I can only hope is named after a muscular mythical creature. Having had the pleasure of seeing them on a few occasions before, its with only the smallest smidgeon of shame that I confess that the Burley Griffin are to blame for my now regular bouts of ‘”loud enough to get judgemental stares at intersections” car singing. While the performance itself seemed a little rushed (did someone forget to pee before going on stage?), generally speaking, the Burley Griffin are hard not to enjoy, with a strong clear vocals, excellent musicianship, and lyrics that hit you right in the feels. A must have for any Darren Hanlon fans and folkwits in general.
Finishing the night on a high note, it is perhaps apt that Devon Sproule’s first song was dedicated to all the people she had met who were effortlessly successful, because this is a label easily applicable to Sproule herself; in the midst of an international tour off the back of a successful stint in Europe that included a spot performing on Jools Holland. Raised in Virginia and currently based in Texas, there’s an occasional hint of country drawl that combines well with Sproule’s unique ability to express vulnerability while still clearly having an iron gripped control over every waver. When the country sounds fade, what’s left is a sweet and pure voice that cuts to the core.