The Devil Makes Three performs acoustic blues and folk music with a spirit of fun and irreverence usually reserved for the original pre-WWII recordings from which the combo draws inspiration. Eschewing virtuosity and scholarly rigid adherence to classic forms, the drummer-less New England-based trio employs acoustic guitar, upright bass, banjo, harmonica, and musical saw to explore themes of death, excessive alcohol consumption, and other generally dark subjects in a shambling, danceable style that would fit nicely on a summer festival stage alongside Jack Johnson or G. Love.
On its 2008 self-titled disc, The Devil Makes Three evokes a campground hoedown or late-night 1962 Greenwich Village folk-revival jam session. "Beneath the Piano" matches a brisk, polka-like rhythm to lyrics mining territory somewhere between a Bukowski novel and Jim Croce's "You Don't Mess Around With Jim," while the slightly herky-jerky feel of "Old Number Seven" mirrors the boozy confusion of the narrator's paean to Jack Daniel's whiskey. The sound of average folks casting out demons with simple instruments and a few turns around the old barn floor, THE DEVIL MAKES THREE serves as a welcome reminder that blues and folk music were once as celebratory as they were serious.