Majical Cloudz may have sadly dissipated, but as promised Devon Welsh has not slowed, and on his first solo release (not an “album,” but merely a “collection”) since, Down the Mountain, he proves that even in tracks deemed excess he is capable of smoothly tapping into your synapses with a softer pierce and purer honesty than most would-be crooners could ever hope to achieve.
The titular track consoles a friend over the loss of their mother with the belting of “It’s alright" willing its soothing empathy to eclipse the darkness through volume as we’re treated to Welsh’s boldest vocal injection in recent memory. This gives away to a bouncy piano trot paired with lyrics as light as you’ll hear from the Montrealiant; “Every month is a pleasure / Enjoy this love with me.” “I want to sing to a room full of strangers just for fun / Oh what could be stranger,” Welsh admits in “I Won’t Let You Down,” hopefully hinting at solo performances to come, signature white shirt and all, the blankness of which always served as the perfect canvas for his soliloquies.
It’s fitting that his last tweet before the release was, “I hope I'm alive to see close-up images of other habitable planets, or even any planets outside our solar system…” Welsh’s music has always started with the bare-bones necessities - a rock, an atmosphere - and seemingly welded them together a galaxy away before gently beaming them back closer to home than you could have ever anticipated at first glance.
Collection closer “Dreams” ends with, “I will help you dream / I am your friend,” a sentiment not many could get away with in any meaningful way as he does, but with a steadily ebbing earnestness the heavy space inherent between Down the Mountain’s airy melodies and sedative vocals trawls the deepest veins of feeling such minimalism can mine. The hum and quiver of synthesizers are the breath and pulse while Welsh’s murmurs are the consciousness dancing upon them, but in a way altogether more beautiful than the sum of the parts. Words fail to quite describe such flawless liquidity.
“I don’t know why we’re born and we die,” “Starlight” ponders. It may be the mystery for the ages, but one thing is for sure: Welsh’s continued creative output into this world gives it just a little more meaning to hold on to.