Jennie DeVoe takes one giant step forward

by David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star
 

"Her potent blues-gospel voice tames any crowd she encounters...now she's inhabiting some of the psychedelic icon Janis Joplin's dangerous space...consider all of DeVoe's dues paid with "Fireworks and Karate Supplies" - an important and irresistible leap forward."

Jennie DeVoe, "Fireworks and Karate Supplies 

As perhaps the most popular unsigned musician in Indianapolis, Jennie DeVoe is an over­achiever of sorts. Her potent blues-gospel voice tames any crowd she encounters, but the songs rarely have challenged the artist or audience beyond a pleasant listen. 

Through two studio albums and a live recording, DeVoe didn't mask her hopes for mainstream acceptance. 

There's an inspired break­through, however, on album No. 3, ''Fireworks and Karate Supplies." This is a comfortable and seductive singer-songwriter who's discovered the art in her craft.

Producers John Parish (best known for his work with PJ Harvey) and Paul Mahern (John Mellencamp, the Blake Babies) deserve credit for placing DeVoe in the context of new and rough­hewn instrumental textures. But it's up to the singer to deliver the goods. DeVoe's always sounded a bit like Janis Joplin; now she's inhabiting some of the psychedelic icon's dangerous space. 

Relationship kiss-off "Redeem­ing'' features this reckless plan: "I'm gonna need a limousine, a little bit of money and some kerosene. And a driver who don't know my name." 

Parish summons the Harvey formula of gritty theatrics on a song called "My Sister the Hippie," in which DeVoe supplies heartland warmth instead of PJ's British detachment. 

For "Missing Me (The Rabbit Foot Song)" - a fine candidate for radio airplay - Parish coaxes a slinky vocal effort from DeVoe, and he adds an otherworldly solo on mellotron. 

References to career struggles are heard in "Try Harder," where image and sensationalism are valued more than one's work. But consider all of DeVoe's dues paid with "Fireworks and Karate Supplies" - an important and irresistible leap forward. 

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