Album Review: Devarrow - "The Coast, The Cottage"

Review by Mario Gautreau

The debut album from Devarrow, aka Graham Ereaux, exposes music with a soft shell and an honest tongue. The Coast, The Cottage saw the Sackville, NB, resident work alongside Moncton heavyweights Marc Xavier Leblanc (DJ Bones) and John Jerome (Heimlich, Pervert, John Jerome & The Great 88), and anyone who knows these two guys knows they have ears attuned to creative pop sensibilities and résumés to intimidate the best of them.

Throughout the album, Ereaux’s voice sounds quasi-whispered, as if his acoustically-driven songs were being performed late at night, conscientious to not awake the slumbering neighbours. The album feels rooted in this soft approach that meanders with sincerity and a delicate reservation, and quite magically elevates to these mini climaxes, scattered among the songs, that combine a greater variety of instruments with vocal harmonies from both genders. While the album as a whole remains on a similarly soft tempo, that tempo nestles itself quite comfortably in the arrangements that slightly recall a more stripped-down Fleet Foxes, aged finely along the coasts and cottages of the Maritimes.

Simple in its fundamentals, but meticulous in its craft, The Coast, The Cottage thematically lingers with the raindrops on the window. But Ereaux’s voice possesses a certain recognition for the urgency involved with seizing moments, with creating these moments, and with assuring the listener that there’s always beauty at the next turn. The first track, The Coast, is a catchy toe-tapper to start things off and samples the magic in Ereaux’s craft. The album is filled with earworms, and some of Ereaux’s lyrics resonate far beyond the reaches of the music, as demonstrated by the last line of "Brother's Friend": "and you are like my brother's friend / a lover of love till then end" fades to what sounds like a boiling kettle. The last song, The Cottage, sees its arrangements dip its toes with warm overtones from organs and electric guitars, a whirlwind of vocal harmonies, and the pleasant tease of a guitar solo, before the voices echo out to sea.

Sincerity and a certain immediacy permeates throughout the album. I’m intrigued to see how Devarrow will interpret the songs in a live setting. His music's skeletal structure is strong, stable and refreshing, and I hope he surprises show-goers with a few tambourines, harmonicas and other smile-inducing instruments.


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