Devotchka – A Mad and Faithful Telling

RIYL: Drama, Fiddler on the Roof, Ennio Morricone, Tom Waits

The best thing about DeVotchKa is the variety. It’s sort of like listening to the soundtrack of a Sergio Leone film on a road trip with a travelling gypsy band. That would be a fun trip, no? Elli Wallach can drive the van and Blondie (the Eastwood role, silly) plays the accordion. It will be perfect. I’m not sure that A Mad and Faithful Telling, the sixth album from the former burlesque backing band is perfect, but it’s pretty darn good, even if it lacks the fire of previous efforts.

No, there are no huge revolutions in the band’s sound. Nick Urata still croons and seduces over trumpets, fiddles and a host of other instruments that I couldn’t pick out of a line up. The same feeling of anachronistic romance persists, however there is a feeling that the energy is a bit more tamed than with previous releases like Una Volta or How it Ends. Still, I’m not complaining and I’m not saying this effort is all more of the same. For example, songs like Tansilliterator show signs of a more conventional rock esthetic with catchy refrains and slick production values. Even if Comrade Z sounds familiar, I’ll catch myself humming the melody. My favorite song is Along the Way which features mournful trumpets and Urata’s troubadour style nicely.

The one down side to A Mad and Faithful Telling is that it isn’t. In a vacuum the tracks are mostly satisfying the album as a whole doesn’t fulfill the promise of the tracks. DeVotchKa is all about emotion and power. Yet, by the end of these ten tracks I’m left feeling that some of that power has been tamed, produced, moderated. This telling is a bit TOO faithful and not mad enough.

Devotchka- A Mad and Faithful Telling