Devin Townsend is musical workhorse that never stops. After a series of lockdown online concerts, Townsend is about to release another acoustic project following triumphant last studio LP Empath. Devolution Series #1 – Acoustically Inclined, Live in Leeds is a remixed and remastered version of a bonus live show included in the Empath Ultimate Edition that will be released on March 19th. Townsend’s acoustic arrangements have always been ethereal and fun throughout his career so no doubt we can expect some nice twists on the variety of classics in the setlist.
In keeping with the live aspect, the album begins with a long intro featuring some funny back and forth between Townsend and the crowd. Between him tuning up and introducing a lush wall of sound and the onstage banter, Townsend gives a nice taste of what’s to come. Opening the show with slow strummer “Let It Roll”, the huge reverb and delay-drenched sound washes over you. Townsend’s vocals sound stunning, especially as he plays around with the melody and his falsetto – even getting a giggle out of the crowd.
“Funeral” makes the first showing of a spin on a heavier track, sounding totally different to the original’s palm-muted chords with it’s ethereal arpeggios. Follow-up “Deadhead” sounds quite similar to the original which lends well to the lush acoustic sound. Townsend retains the screams which work surprisingly well with the softer sound, flowing seamlessly between that and the airy clean vocals.
Making for a more upbeat poppy moment, “Ih-Ah!” is a nice change from it’s longer, more downbeat predecessors. Townsend’s trademark humour makes appearances throughout but here makes for a great few laughs before and during an eerie rendition of crushing classic “Love?”. Returning to the more pop sound with a song from the extensive repertoire that’s been done acoustic before, “Hyperdrive!” never fails to sound great and is a nice addition to this set.
Another chill moment comes in “Terminal” before the frantic, yet haunting style of it’s Ki sibling “Coast”. The penultimate number is the first sung section of the epic “Solar Winds” from Ziltoid the Omniscient, with its musical theatre vibe and hazy sound lending great to the lush acoustic guitar. The show closes with the dreamy chords and sweet melodies of “Things Beyond Things” to rapturous applause and a fading out “thank you” monologue from Townsend.
Devolution Series #1 – Acoustically Inclined, Live in Leeds is a great release making for something a little different from his plethora of musical styles showcased on each main studio LP. Each track lends well to the stripped down style of just vocals, acoustic guitar and effects. The traditionally heavy songs also work surprisingly well, especially in this live setting where Townsend can mix in his comedy to create shifting dynamics. Overall Devolution Series #1 – Acoustically Inclined, Live in Leeds is an awesome capturing of a Devin Townsend show and makes you feel like you’re there. Definitely an album to check out, especially if you’ve been missing live gigs throughout lockdown.
Devolution Series #1 – Acoustically Inclined, Live in Leeds will be available March 19th via InsideOutMusic