Sound — 7
Devotchka may not deliver with the intensity of bands such as Gogol Bordello, but do not make the mistake of underestimating what Devotchka has to offer. From the opening croons of Basso Profundo, Devotchka lulls even the most apathetic listener into what can only be described as a trial separation of the mind and body. With the romantic swansong that is Along the Way, the Devotchka propels the listener into the profundity of this soul-searching cultural experience. This truly is a jam-packed affair, which grasps the listener firmly by the wrist on a journey through an orchestral Mad and Faithful Telling. If this did happen to be a piece of classical piece, a poltergeist of a conductor would surely conduct it with great ebullience. These gypsy folk tales of mysticism skip strut and perform with the emphatic resilience of a marching band-rain wind or shine, there is something in here for you; Devotchka is a lucky dip of emotions. With this album being what it is-namely an ode to jazz, eastern extravaganzas and romanticism one can expect to find all the old favourite instruments here, including guitars, pianos, theremins, trumpets, violins and the kind of percussion that is to die for. So if you're looking for something a little recondite, abstract and purely barmy, check out A Mad and Faithful Telling, as performed by Nick, Tom, Jeanie, Shawn, and the Slavic Sisters in what is an excellent album, as tracks such as Along the Way only assert.
Lyrics — 7
This is a pickle, and a pickled one at that. Devotchka's lyrics are not in English, which on one hand could alienate a lot of monolingual listeners, but on the other hand can only complement the serenity of this highly amorous collection. Although the vocal aspects of A Mad and Faithful Telling are not emphasised, and arguably play second fiddle to the instrumentation, this is not a fault of the band, but a major plus. The fact is that this album epitomises musical expression with its soaring violins and bouncing bass lines; in short, the musical instruments express much of the tangible emotion, only to be complemented by the vocal efforts of Tom and/or Jeanie when necessary.
Overall Impression — 7
Devotchka induces a welcome divergence from what is typical of the contemporary music scene. Ignoring the pressures of distorted guitars and gruff vocals, while embracing their cultural roots, Devotchka has captured something poignant as a wartime love letter, flowing like Mount Etna in a bad mood, and unconventional; unconventional as a band of gypsies can be.