Prose From The Pro’s
Prose From The Pro’s
Below are some of the reviews Devonsquare has received over a 30 year period.
Devonsquare gets it’s big break – Steve Morse (1992)
Devonsquare, which stands for a defunct square in Portland, Maine, has finally gotten a big break. They managed to slip a demo tape to Ahmet Ertegun, president of Atlantic Records, and he signed them immediately. Atlantic has just released the band’s CD, “Walking On Ice” a glowing collection of harmony rich songs which have been gaining national airplay on pop and New Age stations.
Devonsquare is right touch for a warm night – Scott Alarik (1987)
Words like “stalwart” and “erstwhile” are sometimes used by guilty critics to describe artists who have been around for a long time without receiving much attention. They would certainly describe Devonsquare, the winning Maine based vocal trio from whose ranks the popular group Schooner Fare was formed. Their easy professionalism and lush harmonies fit the living room comfort of Passim to a tee, making for a lovely way to spend a warm summer evening
The harmonies are the message with Devonsquare, as they were quick to announce with their opening song “Night Sail” the Van Morrison-like title song of their latest album. MacDonald’s tight vocal control brought out all the husky sensuality of her voice. They next sang the decidedly Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young-flavored :Donner Pass” an odd contemporary treatment of the old west saga, but a pretty song complete with the clever breathy stops in the middle of words that highlighted the best work of CSN&Y.
Between songs the group cheerfully played with the mike stands, teased each other and told jokes on themselves – making it clear how much they liked each other, the audience and their jobs.
In all, a Devonsquare concert takes on the smooth peace of a summer sail: relaxed, soothing and lovely throughout.
This New Turn Will Startle – Daniel Gewertz (1996)
Devonsquare, Maine’s veteran vocal trio has achieved a rare feat: After 20 years with one essential sound, they have utterly altered their course with the new album “Industrial Twilight.”
Instead of slick folk-pop and soft harmonies, their new work consists of three suites inspired by 50’s beat poetry and modern urban blight. The sound is rougher, keener and more urgent. If you thought the old Devonsquare approach was too glib, this new turn will startle. It makes sense they’ve gone from a major label to self-produced.
Devonsquare Turns in Mesmerizing Performance – Greg Haymes (1992)
Listening to their bracing set, you’d never guess that Devonsquare used to be more at home at Caffe Lena. Backed by a new rock trio, vocalist-violinist Alana MacDonald turned in mesmerizing performances on the beat poets tribute “Raining Down On Bleecker Street” and the mysterious, sexually charged “Far Side Of Love” . Her vocals dripped with a kind of Shawn Colvin-meets Stevie Nicks sensuality.
“Tin Man” a new song featuring Herb Ludwig’s lone vocal lead of the night, also hit the bulls eye, offering great promise of things to come.
Folk Band “reinfatuated with the Beats” – by Dave Perry (1996)
Devonsquare is best known for it’s crystalline harmonies and folk-pop playing. But after a few album for Atlantic Records and a recent creative revitalization, the trio has put out it’s own new disc, Industrial Twilight (on Dev Records) which plumbs the cool and cadence of the Beats, including Lowell’s own Jack Kerouac.
“In the course of writing for this one the framework was just turning toward more sparse, lyrically-oriented songs,” say Alana MacDonald, who sings and plays violin. “We’d always done more melodic things, but we really liked the new direction and just became totally reinfatuated with the Beats, reading On The Road again, listening to the recordings, those guys did. (They even sample Kerouac’s voice on The Bum And The Angel,” copping bits of his performance from Rhino’s The Beat Generation box set.)
MacDonald, who has been with the group for 26 years, says it was a matter of “people our age (all are in their 40’s) looking around at the world and life, and our place in it.