Halley DeVestern,
Live at the Towpath Inn
(DeVestunes, 2000)

Halley DeVestern has a gutsy powerhouse voice with an edge as keen and as hard as a diamond blade. She sings dark in-your-face blood-stained songs that share that edge, although at times the words seem to serve more as a vehicle for her versatile voice. Her emotions range from barely restrained anger to sheer rage and back again, with a kind of glee underlying it all.

Live at the Towpath Inn was recorded at the Lounge in New York City. DeVestern accompanies herself on acoustic guitar and is backed by Rima Fand (violin) and Jim McShea (percussion). Fand's violin playing is pure poetry, wailing double stops one moment, skittering across the strings the next. Fand maintains tight control of her instrument at all times, even when the violin sings with abandon and the music wraps itself around and through Devestern's vocals.

Six of the 10 tracks are also on her debut CD, Sugar-Free: "Animal," "Ring of Love," "Scary," "Tied," "They Ain't Got the Ways" and "I'm Over It." New songs are "I'm Dead Today," "The Fool," 'Superhero Killer" and "Strangled in the Park." No lyrics are provided on the liner notes or DeVestern's website, and sometimes the songs are difficult to understand. Sometimes the imagery is clear and potent as in the person numb to her surroundings in "I'm Dead Too" but at other times, the words are indistinguishable, sacrificed to her vocalization. Blood and moonlight are recurring motifs along with pain and anger -- somehow, I'm not surprised . The poetry is not quite up to the quality of the music.

Frankly, this isn't music that I would choose to listen to; it does nothing for me, personally, and that's fine. I can still appreciate the musicianship and recommend it strongly to anyone who likes to listen to grrrrls rock.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]
Rambles: 15 September 2001

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