The new album ‘Song & Dance Man’ is an almost fully acoustic album, practically recorded live in Studio Doornenburg in The Netherlands. It’s an intimate and folky document, in a Bluegrass setting apart from the odd electric guitar. Far removed from commercialism and gimmicks Devries tends to tell a story with depth and passion and a somewhat understated sense of humor.
When these days releasing single tracks is most common Devries releases a full album instead. Devries writes about people who had to endure some hard knocks in life, people that have lived, about human frailty, about love lost or unrequited. About drink and (feelings of) depression. Stories about time passing and about following your heart, even against better judgement, but also about following your dreams. Together with producer and multi instrumentalist Janos Koolen and bassist Lucas Beukers and violinist Joost van Es, Devries recorded 12 original songs for this Americana album.
Overdubs were few and limited to where Koolen took up the odd extra instrument or to where violinist Joost van Es layered some extra violin parts to create a more orchestrated arrangement. Singer Sophie Janna (The Lasses) was brought in to do some harmony vocals.
Born in Amsterdam, Eric Devries founded his first band during the punk era in 1977. Going forward, he was awarded various prizes and he toured with his second band “The Big Easy” throughout the Netherlands and Switzerland.
The Big Easy attracted attention from the very start and got airplay on many national radio stations but failed to land a record deal. They got a reputation as Best Acoustic act solely because Eric Devries played acoustic guitar which was not common in those days. The Big Easy disbanded after several line-up changes in '97. Eric Devries teamed up with fellow singer-songwriter BJ Baartmans (see also later projects such as (Songwriters United, Hidden Agenda Deluxe and Matthews Southern Comfort). In 2004 he released his first solo Album which was valued highly by critics. For his sophomore album in 2007 he recorded three songs while on tour in Oklahoma, U.S. His third album was released in 2014 to rave reviews. Aside from his solo projects he formed the collective Songwriters United, hosted a series of singer-songwriter nights (“Ramble on Tuesday”) and released albums with Americana rootsrockers Hidden Agenda Deluxe and the legendary Matthews Southern Comfort.
Iain Matthews about Eric Devries: “Eric is the real thing. I know his music well, from our time together in Matthews Southern Comfort. He has a writing style unlike any other Dutch singer songwriter. To hear him perform his own songs and indeed those of others, in that inimitable high tenor, leaning over the microphone in his high heeled boots and bebop hat, you’re more inclined to think his roots are in Tulsa Oklahoma rather than The Netherlands. On his new album he’s chosen the perfect blend of acoustic instruments to embellish his finely constructed tunes. It’s an album to listen to, or dance to. Your choice. But if I were you, I’d kick back with a generous glass of quality Chardonnay and groove your way through. At least twice. Maybe three times.”
Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Eric Devries (by M. Nuyten); (3) Iain Matthews (unknown/website).