From the very first moment a singer-songwriter picks up the pen and guitar, it often comes with an understanding that he or she is ready to share something; and oftentimes that something is a part of the person creating the music. Everybody knows the adage "write about what you know," and in the case of Melanie Devaney, an undeniable part of her progression into the world of musical expression stems from her upbringing in small town Iowa.
"I am definitely a product of growing up in a small town. I'm a big fan of concrete imagery and being blatantly honest in what I say - I think these qualities are definitely part and parcel of small-town life where sometimes you are very 'exposed,' as opposed to a city where you can be quite anonymous, and can't really fool people," reflects Devaney.
A native of Epworth, Devaney began writing and performing at a young age, honing her talent in the Midwest before heading west to Los Angeles, where she now calls home. With a strong leaning toward folk-based rock, Devaney is currently touring in support of her third full-length album "Single Subject Notebook" released this week.
The album title holds special meaning to Devaney, who began writing songs at a young age in notebooks.
"I started writing when I was 14 using a book by a great author named Natalie Goldberg. In this book she had exercises - 10-minute timed writings - and once I started doing them, I was sort of addicted. I was a creative writing major in college and so it seems most of my life has been accompanied by a blank notebook."
While Devaney has spent extended time in places other than her original home state, she has not lost the feeling of comfort that comes from vast open spaces whether it be from Iowa farmland or the endless sense of possibility within a freshly opened notebook.
"I find that whenever I'm in places that offer these pastoral settings, such as out on the road touring, I tend to feel very at-ease and productive as an artist," she says.
"In the past, I think I was so overwhelmed with the idea of going into the studio that I was afraid to speak up when I didn't agree with or didn't like things about the songs others were doing to them. This time around, I was much more assertive about what I wanted the album to sound like. Jamie and I were able to work really well together and come up with a production that I feel really embody what the songs are about."
With three releases to her name, Devaney has certainly come into her own as a singer-songwriter.
"As I've developed as a performer, I've definitely made a conscious effort to give my audiences a sense of who I am and that I have experiences - heartbreaks, joys - just like they do. I want them to leave feeling that life, though unpredictable and sometimes chaotic, still has meaning and beauty."
- MOUNT VERNON
7 p.m., Thursday (3/6), Lincoln Wine Bar, 125 W. First St.
7 p.m. Friday (3/7), Five Flags Bijou Room Release Party, 405 Main St.
8 p.m. Saturday (3/8), Jitney Wine Bar, 126 E. First St.