Neo-soul/funk outfit The Devonns will release its self-titled debut album Friday. The 10-song record has already spawned three singles – ‘Tell Me,’ ‘Blood Red Blues (How Long?)’ and ‘Green Light’ – ahead of its forthcoming release. All three songs are engaging and enjoyable in their own right, especially ‘Blood Red Blues (How Long?),’ the latest of the record’s singles. It will be discussed shortly. For all that it and the other singles do for the record’s presentation, they are only a portion of what makes the record stand out. ‘So In Love With You’ does its own part to make this record memorable. It will certainly become a fan favorite, and will be discussed a little later. ‘More,’ which comes just past the record’s midpoint, is another notable addition to the record. When it is considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of the album’s content makes it a record with a far-reaching appeal
The Devonns’ self-titled debut album is a strong first impression from the neo-soul/funk quartet. That is proven from beginning to end in its musical and lyrical content. The group’s latest single, ‘Blood Red Blues (How Long?)’ is just one of the songs featured in the album that supports the noted statements. The song’s musical arrangement, with its subtle guitar line, steady time keeping and vocals from front man Mathew Ajjarapu, immediately lends itself to comparisons to Marvin Gaye’s timeless song ‘What’s Going On.’ That is no coincidence, as Ajjarapu noted in a statement on the group’s official Facebook page, that he had been listening to that song as well as renditions of ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ from Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin when the song was crafted. Hints of both songs are evident, and welcome. Such connections leave little doubt as to why this song was chosen as one of the album’s singles. The song’s lyrical content, which was written prior to the recent events in Minnesota, but plays right into what has happened and is happening.
Ajjarapu noted in his statement about the song that he wrote it “about my frustration with the lack of progress America has made on issues, such as the Trayvon Martin case or the Sandy Hook massacre. It’s like everyone here is mad about those things, but no one actually has any power to change them…I remember trying to imagine if Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye could somehow come back and see how things had changed in 30 or 40 years, how might they feel?” Again, while the song might not have been connected to what has recently happened in Minnesota, such comments make it just as easily connected to the ongoing events. Ajjarapu sings in the song’s lead verse, “Blood dried on the parking lot/Cop said another boy’s been shot/mama worked for everything she’s got/Then the bank came along/Got everything she got/What’s going wrong/What’s going wrong?” He continues in the song’s second verse, “Blood dried on the parking lot/TV says another school’s been shot/Now we all know what we got to say/But everybody’s scare of the NRA/Oh, what’s going on/Hey, what’s going wrong/How long, how long, how long, how long/Must we wait for the time of justice to be done.” As the song progresses, he also asks, “How long must we wait for the time for us to live as one?” The rest of the song’s lyrical content follows in much the same fashion. He even goes so far as to sing in the song’s closing verse, “Doesn’t matter how hard we fought/None of this is ever gonna stop…killin’ us from the inside out/What’s going wrong?” Once more, this is one of those songs that will connect with listeners in any era. Its lyrical content was constructed at a certain period in time, but could just as easily have been written in response to so much social dischord that has plagued this nation. Keeping that in mind, the song, both musically and lyrically, proves itself a strong addition to The Devonns and just one key example of what makes this record such an influential start for the group. ‘So In Love With You’ is another notable addition to the record.
‘So In Love With You’ leaves zero doubt as to its subject matter. It, like so much of the material featured in this record, is a work that centers on the topic of romantic love. It stands out in part because of its musical arrangement. This song’s arrangement is a smooth, old school work that throws back to the days when acts, such as The O’Jays, The Temptations and The Isley Brothers were at their peak popularity. It is one of those works that will do well at any formal (or informal) event involving dance. It will give couples every bit of motivation to embrace and get lost in the moment (and each other).
The lyrics that accompany the song’s musical arrangement are just as smooth as said content. Ajjarapu sings in the song’s lead verse, “I don’t know what you have got/Now baby/Just what keeps you on my mind/I just know that you can do the things you do to me/Each and every single time/And I’m so in love with you, baby/Said I’m so in love with you/You just save me my love, girl/And I’ll be right there by your side/You don’t have to be so particular with me, honey/I’m the one who’s begging this time/And I’m so in love with you, baby/I’m so in love with you.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “Tell me/Can you understand me, girl/I don’t think you do sometimes/I can tell that you’re the who’s gonna be with me through endless time/And I’m so in love with you, baby/Said I’m so in love with you.” The song continues with Ajjarapu repeatedly singing, “I’m so in love with you” as strings play in the background alongside the drums and keyboards, eventually fading out. Once again, the lyrics leave zero questions as to the song’s theme, which adds to its ability to connect with listeners. That connection will ensure listeners’ engagement and entertainment, all while making this neo-R&B work a song that could help break the group into the mainstream. It’s just one more example of what makes The Devonns a standout work. ‘More’ does its own share to show why The Devonns’ self-titled debut is worth hearing, too.
‘More’ presents an arrangement whose guitar, drums and strings boats a distinct old school disco-infused sound that audiences will enjoy just as much as any of the album’s other works. The addition of the horns to the whole enriches the song even more. The song’s upbeat tempo adds to the engagement in the song because that and the arrangement in whole is such a stark contrast to the song’s lyrical content, which is apparently about a breakup.
The note of the breakup is inferred as Ajjarapu sings in the song’s lead verse, “You smile at me/Like you don’t love me anymore/It’s not like your smile before/Is loving me such a chore/I don’t want/I don’t wanna be draggin’ you down/So you should let me know right now/If you need to be getting out/If I told you once/I told you a thousand times/I don’t need your love/If you can’t be kind/If you think this love/Is something worth fighting for/Then you’ve got to give me more/There was a time I loved you/Has our love died, too/We have to try to save this/Before we take our last…” He continues in the song’s second verse, “You go out/At all hours, it seems/Hwo could you ever do this to me/Don’t you think that I’ve got needs/I don’t think you recall/Just how this really is/So let me spell it out like this/Pretty soon I’ll be done with this s***.” From here, Ajjarapu returns to the song’s chorus twice more asking about what happened to the couple’s relationship. Again, this is interesting, considering that most R&B songs that center on breakups tend to be rather melancholy. So to have this juxtaposition of familiar lyrical content to such upbeat musical content makes for its own share of engagement and entertainment. It is certain to generate discussion among listeners for this very reason. That’s a good thing for The Devonns, too. It shows the group obviously paid attention to such a minute, yet important detail. Considered along with the overall content of the other noted songs and the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of The Devonns proves itself a work that will appeal to a wide range of listeners.
The Devonns’ self-titled debut album, set for release Friday through Record Kicks, is an impressive first offering from the group. That is due to the album’s musical and lyrical content. While much of the content focuses (and quite well at that) on personal relationships, there is at least one social commentary featured in the album. The album’s musical arrangements will take listeners back in time as if it is another time capsule unearthed and filled with old school funk, soul and R&B records. It is a work that many listeners will find appealing. That wide appeal, thanks to the engaging and entertaining content makes the record one of the year’s best new independent albums and overall albums. More information on The Devonns is available along with all of The Devonns’ latest news and more at:
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