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Devon Williams 

Carefree (Ba Da Bing)

Wednesday, Apr 30 2008

Devon Williams' debut album, Carefree, evokes '60s girl groups like the Shirelles and the Ronettes and songwriting teams like Goffin/-King and Barry/Greenwich. You know, the kind of music where the singer sounds as if she will surely die if her dreamboat doesn't dock at the chapel of love. It's reminiscent of songs so full of yearning and devotion that they seem to be addressing God directly.

That said, Carefree is by no means a genre exercise, a '60s throwback, or hopelessly cloying. It's simply one of the most straightforwardly gorgeous pop albums released in some time. The first song, "Please Be Patient," establishes a tone with a lilting lead vocal and lush strings courtesy of Lavender Diamond's Steve Gregoropoulos (who contributes arrangements to several tracks). Here and on songs like "Elevator" and "A Truce," Williams is working in an antiquated tradition: writing each tune as if it were a single and packing as much as possible into a heavenly two-to-three-minute listening experience. The instrumentation is tight and ornate. His lyrical preoccupations include calling for truces, asking for patience, longing, and kissing in cars. Yet amidst the hopeful, aching beauty of the aforementioned numbers are songs like "Bells," a punk raver that roars from the speakers with the impact of an early Replacements song, complete with chorused guitar thunder and a mere 89-second duration. In short, Carefree is an increasingly rare example of mature songwriting that retains the essential teenage qualities that define good rock 'n' roll.

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John Garmon


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