In the case of Eric Devries, we are somewhat familiar with his ‘Hidden Agenda’, at least as far as the musical part is concerned. The duo with that other musician and songwriter Jan Baartmans grew into Hidden Agenda Deluxe, reinforced with a rhythm section and organ player. An out of combo that not without merit adapted the American roots on Pan Alley Fever and Angels in The Snow, a collaboration with the Canadian band Oh Sussanah. Afterwards, together with Baartmams, he was spotted at Matthews Southern Comfort. With Songs & Dances, Devries is now working on his fourth solo project.
Devries opted for a more intimate approach and an acoustic setting. Producer and multi-instrumentalist Janus Kolen adds subtle accents with mandolin banjo, dobro, accordion… We also hear violin contributions from Joost van Es and bassist Lucas Beukers provides rhythmic support.
Immediately after the countdown it becomes clear the horny Little White Lines tracks on honky tonk tracks with twanging strings and harmonica. In Jericho Walls, banjo and violin set the tone and support the vocals. It is flanked by the harmonic backing of Sophie Janna, who we remember from The Lasses. ”When I heard the Man sing ‘Hard Noise The Highway’, the sparkling title track is a thinly veiled tribute to Van Morrison.
In this way Devries always takes you along in carefully elaborated stories. The time when you have no control or the inevitable problems that arise with every new love, the Matters of Love meandering on wonderful strings and the melancholy intoxicated All I Know How To Do.
Pause for a moment on the relaxed, banjo fiddle-driven cajun tones of Another Round and we wind up in the concluding section with Don’t Let Me Be. The softly flying Mary is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful stages of a flawless course that ends in absolute beauty after the fiddler song But For The Grace. Sunday Eve in Amsterdam, a wistful look in the rear-view mirror, floats on acoustic guitar, tender clarinet and strings. Song & Dance Man is undoubtedly one of the better works from the song forge of the Low Countries and far beyond.