Janet Devlin – Confessional (Insomnia Music
Release Date: Out Now
For those of you that remember Janet Devlin from her stint on the X Factor, you may want to forget everything you thought you knew – this is a new project. ‘Confessional’ is a twelve-track collection that takes you through the ins, outs, twists and turns of Devlin’s life experience to date and it is well worth your time. The title track, ‘Confessional’, gets proceedings underway with a mixture of what sounds like a monk boy band and some celtic melodies before Devlin’s breathy but powerful vocals join. In terms of power and vibe, this reminds me of the first time I heard Alanis Morissette as the mixture of hooks and incisive lyrics makes for an intoxicating mix. We’re up and running.
‘So Cold’ has a more subdued feel as a lonely piano riff is swollen by strings until the beat eventually drops and you get chills. The forlorn strings of ‘Saint of the Sinners’ is dripping in the mists of the Irish sea while ‘Cinema Screen’ takes the ambition and creativity to a new level with US levels of production sheen, an earworm of a chorus and Devlin’s siren song of a vocal. ‘Speak’ borrows from Irish staple ‘Oh Danny Boy’ for a few bars but then morphs in to something of a more romantic love song whereas ‘Honest Men’ has a darker feel that you don’t come across often even in the alt-pop world but it is so deliciously appealing that you wouldn’t be surprised to find that Hozier had some involvement.
What Devlin does so beautifully on this album is use her impish, elfin voice to lull you in to a false sense of security before hitting you square between the eyes with epic, sweeping melodies and an ambitiousness that outstrips most other solo artists on the scene at the moment. On ‘Love Song’, for example, there is a gentle melodic violin but it’s mixed with a stomping blues-esque rhythm and that distinctively beautiful vocal all mixed to, somehow, make a gorgeous alt-pop ballad. ‘Big Wide World’ is a more optimistic sunny Saturday morning of a song which bounces and fizzes in equal measure before ‘Away with the Fairies’ deals with mental health in a way that is uplifting and empowering in a Katy Perry kind of way.
The last quarter of the album starts with ‘Sweet Sacred Friend’ which mixes harp ripples, woodwind and sultry beats to come up with a sound that is Northern Ireland’s answer to Shakira. ‘Holy Water’ is dripping in Gaelic influences and all the better for it but closing track ‘Better Now’ is more akin to Devlin’s flame haired sister from another mister Tori Amos. This is a hugely impressive, ambitious and rich album that should do well on both sides of the Atlantic and is genuinely worth your time and energy. This album will repay you, in spades.
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