In the music spotlight: DeVotchKa

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DeVotchKa | Jen Rosenstein Photo

Judging by DeVotchKa’s seventh studio album “This Night Falls Forever,” it’s no wonder that frontman Nick Urata has developed a thriving second career as a film score composer. The cinematic sweep of “Let Me Sleep” brings flourishes of Bollywood, tango, parlor piano and orchestral splendor to a tale of complicated love-hate-love.

The Denver-based group may not have a raft of string players and percussionists in tow Oct. 4 at the Vic Theatre, but expect DeVotchKa to defy whatever conventions an indie-rock quartet can. For starters, Jeanie Schroder subverts her typical position in the rhythm section by alternating between acoustic bass and a sousaphone festooned with Christmas tree lights.

Urata’s relatable songs remain confessional and clever. With the new single “Straight Shot,” the singer finds himself traveling a direct path while wryly observing that real life “is just around the bend.” Many of the new songs find Urata wrestling with his past in search of an elusive, peaceful tomorrow.

“You thought you were done with those days, but they ain’t done with you,” he sings during the melancholy country waltz “Done with Those Days,” spiked by twanging ghost-rider guitar and the melody of a high-lonesome whistler that would have suited an Ennio Morricone spaghetti western soundtrack. Despite the spiritual battering, Urata holds onto hope. “There’s a divine purpose lying just below the surface,” he sings of those refining forces.

Tom Hagerman’s gypsy violin, accordion and cathedral organ envelop Urata’s guitar during the last-straw sentiment of “Break Up Song,” creating an arrangement that’s equal parts spy movie soundtrack and intoxicating sea shanty.

Drummer Shawn King applies skill and affinity for Latin percussion that he has offered to likeminded projects including Los Dreamers during songs like the propulsive “My Little Despot.” Urata’s impassioned vocal spills desperation in lines including “no one should love you this much,” joined by King’s rhythm in a fusion that compels both the heart and the feet. Despite the song’s politically-charged vocabulary, Urata has promised that his songs focus upon tyranny only in the realm of love.

“Today’s political climate has changed the availability of our lexicon,” says Urata in a press release. “There is a temptation to bring politics and protest into our songs, but we have to have some respite from it or we’re all gonna go crazy. Music is a force of nature that makes people fall in love. That’s where change will come from.”

* DeVotchKa, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4, Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield, $28.50-$78.50 (all ages); ticketfly.com.

Jeff Elbel is a local freelance writer.

DeVotchKa | Manmade Media

DeVotchKa | Manmade Media

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