Rio Devore – Sleep It Off
“Sleep It Off,” by Rio Devore, is a highly personal poem filled with lyrical imagery underlain by a musical score that is both spare and warmly resonant. Words such as ‘Singing along to an overplayed Drake song’ and ‘Turning my pocket watch back like it’s gonna take back time’ paint scenes that float in time, as Dylan used the inspiration of painter Norman Raeben to color in the Rimbaud-like vignettes of Blood on the Tracks.
“Sleep It Off” is the third single from the soon-to-be-released album, Learning to Laugh at the Sad Parts. The track begins quietly and gradually builds, adding tension while never reaching Wall of Sound proportions. The production value of “Sleep It Off” and the previous singles, “Almost Famous” and “Complacent Revolution,” is a significant improvement over Rio Devore’s earlier releases, which had a definite DIY quality (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Rio credits producer Joshua James with the upgrade. “Learning to Laugh at the Sad Parts is the first ‘big production’ record I’ve done to date,” he told me in an email. “Working with Joshua James showed me how to create depth to my sound which I was struggling with on my own.”
The improvement in sound quality seemingly parallels an improvement in Rio Devore’s musical – and perhaps personal – fortunes. On his Facebook page, Rio notes, “It is hard to believe a year has passed since I took a big step forward in my music career. Last year I would not have been able to imagine that my record would sound the way it does, that I’d be going on tour this summer and looking into booking some shows in Ireland in the fall. It’s surreal.” When I asked him what had changed since the previous year, Rio replied, “What changed was I took a leap of faith in myself and my music, which isn’t something I’ve really done before. This record came out of a few quick, large, life-changing events. Over half of the original album got scrapped three months before I went to record because it felt fake and forced after said events took place.”
Rio’s take on the album is interesting, as the three songs we’ve heard so far sound completely unfake and unforced, the words flowing naturally, sometimes in a tumble, each track relating an event or emotion that Rio has experienced personally. And scrapping half the album just before the onset of recording brings to mind what golfer Lee Trevino said: “You don’t know what pressure is until you play for five bucks with only two bucks in your pocket.”
Learning to Laugh at the Sad Parts and other releases by Rio Devore are available for download on Rio’s Bandcamp page. You can support deserving independent musicians like Rio Devore by listening to his songs and downloading a few of your favorites. Or download the entire album. That works, too. More songs by Rio Devore are available on his Soundcloud page. And you can get to know Rio better by following him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.