Janet Devlin is a singer/songwriter from Northern Ireland and I recently discovered them on Instagram, just in time for the release of their new album ‘Confessional’ which I’ll be reviewing today.
‘Confessional’ opens with a choral sequence of male vocals and a mix of instruments that ease perfectly with Janet’s voice and I was just instantly captivated. Her vocals are powerful, you can feel the fire and the sincerity in every note, and oh my god this song is just straight fire, it’s rare that I’m this taken with an artist after hearing them for the first time. I really liked the fade out as well, it worked really well after the energy and intensity of the track.
‘So Cold’ is slower and softer, you get to hear a whole different side to Janet’s vocals, she has this measured, smoky vocal style that you could never tire of listening to. Anyway despite being slower it does not let up, you still get an emotional wallop with every beat, and get swept up in it all.
‘Saint of the Sinners’ has a very Irish twang to the music as it opens, giving way to another tremendous vocal performance by Janet, it seems like she gets better with each song and considering I was a fan from the first track that’s a truly impressive feat. I liked that this one started off with the slower feel of the second track but then built in intensity and energy, making something even better, even dropping off at points to create a nice counterpoint. I listened to the full album on release day and each day until I wrote the review (as is common practice for any review) but I could not get this song out of my head.
‘Cinema Screen’ has a different feel to it on the face compared to the other tracks. It opens with light strings, delicate and balanced by a heavier percussive beat and of course Janet’s voice which works well, especially against the heavier beat I mentioned. I also mentioned a previous track has an Irish feel to it, I like how Janet inserts the barest musical sequences that both add to the complex mix of her songs but also a subtle nod to her heritage, it really works for me.
‘Speak’ has a mournful, strong opening, possibly a violin although I’m not an expert, before giving way to a lighter more persistent mix of what chord and string, and again I am just wowed by Janet’s voice, crystal clear and perfect, it is a truly sensational track.
‘Honest Men’ opens with a sequence from a male voice that very quickly flows into Janet’s voice, I like how she can sound quiet and gentle, and yet you feel the raw power of her voice as a undercurrent, I also like that she can inject so much depth and darkness and sheer weight into each line, and that’s before she really lets go, when she does…jeez!
This track easily takes the top spot for my favourite on the album.
‘Love Song’ is another track that blends contemporary vibes with something classically Irish, it works really well and after the last song that was a little heavy, this one has just the right feel to bring you back up without upsetting the internal continuity of the album as a whole.
‘Big Wide World’ is another one that’s a little lighter and upbeat, it has a nice bouncy energy and it’s good to hear yet another side to Janet’s voice. I liked the vocal harmonies in this one, they added to the whole vibe and the result is a fun song that’s busy and energetic and really picks you up as we firmly enter the second half of the album.
‘Away with the Fairies’ is a phrase I’ve heard a lot in my childhood, it also happens to be a profoundly engaging song, the soft, trilling notes merges wonderfully with the vocals, and the songs builds, going from something relatively simple to a powerful and rich, all just with slow building, and then that all fades back to something softer. Regardless though Janet’s voice shines through brightly.
‘Sweet Sacred Friend’ opens with what I think is a flute, it adds a really interesting quality to the track and kinda of sets up a false start so to speak, to me it suggested a slower, lighter song but the one kicks in all high energy and with even use of percussion, it played with my expectations and results in a song I like even more because of it.
‘Holy Water’ is another song that has a blending of classic and new, the familiar and the unique, things like it a lot, I think this song takes the second spot in terms of favourites of the album. And much like the above song my expectations were subverted, because this one danced between a more mellow tempo and something with a bit more drive to it, it again makes for a great listening experience.
‘Better Now’ starts off slow, the piano is soft and unencumbered by anything else, as is Janet’s voice and both perfectly complement one another. I have my favourites on the album as you’ve seen above and this is easily another, but I would honestly suggest anyone listen to this track in all if it’s simple, haunting beauty and not instantly want to hear more from the artist, it’s truly an excellent closer.
So that’s what I thought of Janet Devlin’s album ‘Confessional’ and If you want to check that out for yourself then head on over to Spotify or better yet purchase it from their website. Make sure and support the artist by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/