THE OLD-TIME HERALD SPRING 2001
(reprinted with Permission)
mandolin, guitar, banjo, bass, vocals;
Rochelle "LaRoche" Morris:
Home/By the Mark/High Atmosphere/Unwed Fathers/Every Humble Knee Must Bow/Sounds of Silence/You'll Get No More of Me/Alabama Waltz/Distant Land to Roam/I'veJust Seen the Rock of Ages / Dear Brother / Orphan Child / Alabama Waltz (unlisted reprise)
Devine & LaRoche
Inspired by some of the finest old-time singers around, this duo does an admirable job paying tribute to their acknowledged teachers (Kate Brislin and Jody Stecher, Ginny Hawker and Kay Justice, Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard). The song selection is chock full of gems and will be familiar to many who follow the world of traditional singing: however, my favorites were the more obscure items. In particular, Devine and LaRoche trade off vocal solos to give Hazel Dickens"'You'll Get No More of Me" a countrytinged flavor. Their high and lonesome harmonies provide a more ethereal treatment for Robin and Linda Williams'"High Atmosphere." Their duet arrangement of Hank Williams' "Dear Brother" is especially heart wrenching. These tracks are worthy of special mention partly because they are great songs, but also because Devine and LaRoche are fine singers and deliver some real, vocal magic.
Devine and LaRoche alternate on lead and harmony parts throughout, with LaRoche's voice being somewhat more prominent. Occasionally on the higher pitched material LaRoche's vocals are thin and she warbles a bit, but more generally intonation and blend are a strong point for these singers. Her lower register as heard on parts of "Alabama Waltz," and "You'll Get No More of Me" is most pleasing and deserves greater exposure. Among the more familiar songs on this CD, I noticed a tendency to speed up the tempo as compared to the source material, which may have detracted from the vocal blend. The hardest thing in the world is to sing a slow song slow. On the other hand, I was pleased to hear a thoroughly maudlin version of "I've just Seen the Rock of Ages."There is a fairly strong folk influence, with several songs included by contemporary songwriters mostly toward the beginning of the CD. Although most are written in a more or less traditional style, Paul Simon's "Sounds of Silence" seemed a bit out of place. Overall, the recording quality, clarity, and production are excellent. The liner notes are informative if occasionally unclear. For instance, several instruments are attributed to Dennis Devine (who is apparently the lead instrumentalist), but I did not hear any fiddle or flute on this recording. More importantly to the music, Devine's variety of instrumental work (mandolin, clawharnmer banjo, lead guitar, and bass) as well as LaRoche's rhythm guitar complement the singing superbly. I believe this duo has great potential and I hope on their next project they include more hidden treasures and continue to establish their own sound of which they are more than capable.
To order CD: