CD REVIEW: Neil Thomas - Devadatta
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Alternative Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Progressive Hard Rock
Sounds Like: Radiohead, Beck, Suzanne Vega, Spoon, Peter Gabriel, Death Cab for Cutie, Mike Rutherford
Technical Grade: 7/10
UK Singer/Songwriter Neil Thomas just released eight new songs on his much anticipated Devadatta” album The album is available on CD, direct from the artist, and also via iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Deezer. etc for those who prefer MP3 downloads. Band members include: Neil Thomas (Voice/guitar/flute/saxophone), Carl Stipetic (Guitar/bass/keyboards), Leigh Stothard (Drums), Kate Riley (Violin), Angela Pearce (Cello), Sarah Burton (Oboe), Maev Thomas and Fran Turner (Soprano). This release is also available in Vinyl via the above hyperlink.
First up Track 1 Adrenalinized” serves up an enticing guitar ridden groove meshed against hypnotic lyrical content, strong melody and impressive heartfelt vocals from Thomas. This intro track sets the tone rather well for an unpredictable yet rocking CD like this - I especially like the melodic finale of this track. Track 2 “Time Bomb keeps things moving with its rock steady rhythm, methodical musical build and well placed Piano that gradually builds into a passionate yet psychedelic rock statement complete with impassioned vocal presence and a dynamic musical flow that is borderline brilliant. Track 3 “The Unlikelihood of Intimacy” serves up yet another superb track with thought provoking lyrical content that floes and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. As these songs slowly unfolded I could hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Radiohead, Beck, Suzanne Vega, Spoon, Peter Gabriel, Death Cab for Cutie and early works from Mike Rutherford. I would classify this music as Alternative Rock, with a slight aftertaste of Progressive Hard Rock and trippy Psychedelic ambience that is unpredictable and emotional. For the most part the songs are relatively melancholy, addictive, eccentric, fascinating, and very interesting - all reflections of the band led by Thomas. One can't notice intellectual, passionate and powerful subject matter delivered between the spoken word, with a heavy dose of raw truth and bi-polar vocal emotion. This is typical of brilliant UK bands of the past and present many her in the US admire and can’t get enough of. In this aspect some of the writing reminds me of Pink Floyd. The musicianship from all members are rock solid across the board. Thomas and company showcase rock solid production instants throughout. Besides the 4 piece standard you will also notice things like impressive low end beats and rhythms, well placed Flute, Cello, Violin, Oboe, Piano, synthetic sound effects and lush harmonies layered everywhere. Thomas is an accomplished vocalist, guitarist, musician within his own right and he is no doubt the musical mastermind behind this band. Like I had mentioned he not only sings, he also plays guitar, flute and piano. Thomas has amazing power, control and intensity throughout. Equally as impressive is the how he makes each song his own making a distinct and strong (singer to listener) vocal connection. Thomas has an appealing timber and crisp, sharp baritone and takes many impressive vocal risks throughout each song. His voice sounds in the vein of Maynard Keenan (Tool) and Greg Gulli (The Afghan Whigs.) The songs themselves are reckless, progressive and packed to the hilt with raw intensity and lyrical content straight from the neurotic psyche. Thomas’ vocal style works with respect to this style of music with its stereotypical jagged edge delivery. What I like most about the music is its intensity, intellectualism and consistency. All songs are short and sweet musical experiences, never too winded, never to short. All engineering aspects check out. CD possesses solid low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. I especially like the cross fades between tracks – nice producers touch! Cover art is equally as impressive. To methodical and highly dynamic The Dragon Kings Daughter” to hypnotic “Charm Offensive” to rock steady “Deliberate Self Harm” to heartfelt “Random Acts of Kindness” this CD has something for just about everyone. CD ends with Track 8 “Moral Compass” the perfect finale for a CD like this.
I wish there were a few more solo segments present. I also wish I hear a few more blood curling screams from Thomas mostly when the music calls for it like on some of the brief finales. CD is a bit short with just 8 Tracks, perhaps 2-3 more songs are needed to make this a fully loaded release. Track 4 feels like it dragged me to the finish line – a bit winded at over 10 minutes. One of the Splash cymbals sounds a bit awkward to me and sticks out like a sore thumb within the Sonic Space/Production.
In close “Devadatta” by Neil Thomas is a highly original, somewhat unpredictable and fascinating musical experience from start to finish. Although it's primarily alt-rock based you never know what's coming round the corner with this band. The music is fresh and highly entertaining. Its strong suit – its amazing vocal presence and impressive songwriting finesse by this band led by Neil Thomas. The songs are extremely melodic, passionate, and captivating and somewhat dark and unpredictable. All these songs have a ring of truth to them. Each song possesses a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Neil Thomas is a surging UK based talent for many reasons armed with a brilliant perspective an amazing voice to inspire your vivid imagination. Need I say more?