Devon Sproule's ever-shifting career has leaned in many directions over the years, with each new release revealing a tone, element, or process that seems to deepen the whole of her next album. A tough artist to pigeonhole, she's been labeled loosely as folk and Americana, but her deeply layered songcraft is fed from so many disparate tributaries unique to her own story that no lone descriptor will really do. The press materials for The Gold String, her eighth studio album, proclaim it "North American music with weirdo roots," a whimsical phrase that is actually quite apt. A lifelong wayfarer with a surprisingly strong sense of place, Sproule's music has the unique ability to connect deeply with wherever she's set up her camp, radiating contrasting senses of home and wanderlust with her sweetly quavering voice and idiosyncratic basket of influences. Born in Canada and raised on a hippie commune in rural Virginia, she's spent much of her adult life on tour in North America and Europe, with stints living in upstate New York, Austin, Berlin, and Charlottesville, Virginia, the city she is most identified with. The songs on The Gold String were recorded in Nova Scotia, the Yukon, and Scotland's Shetland Islands, and yet the eight-song collection feels like another charming expansion of Sproule's detailed personal microcosm. The complex weaving of jazzy melodies on opener "Listen to This" wind their way into a rich harmonic chorus before unexpected electronic burbles and bleeps sprout up like synthesized mushrooms. The title cut, with its almost-monotone delivery, unfolds with a sort of stream-of-consciousness poetic grace describing the bucolic details and wildlife of the island where it was written as Sproule muses on the interconnectedness of the people and places in her life. The natural world, which has always been a major character in her work, plays an even greater role here, blending in with tales of friendship, love, and the quiet passing of daily life. Musically, the album continues to play on her adventurous streak, blending shades of jazz, pop, folk, and rock into her own distinctive amalgam. Produced once again by husband and guitarist Paul Curreri, The Gold String is as unique as anything in Sproule's latter-day catalog and is well worth the time needed to let its complex notes decant.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger