Devin Townsend – Lightwork

Devin Townsend - Lightwork Album Cover Artwork

Devin Townsend has had a very productive spell over the last couple of years. Ever the creative genius, over the period of the pandemic and beyond Devin has released a live acoustic album, a live album of one of his COVID streamed concerts, Snuggles and The Puzzle. The end of 2022 brings us to Lightwork, which one might describe as a more traditional Devin Townsend album than either Snuggles or The Puzzle, and at the same time not.

Lightwork has elements in common with some of Devin’s lighter work in the past, such as some of the songs on Addicted. But where Addicted had almost “pop on speed” qualities in some places (Hyperdrive!) and pure vocal powered acoustic genius (Ih-Ah!), Lightwork veers more to a variant of lo-fi indie rock for the bulk of the album. This is particularly evidence on tracks like the opening Moonpeople and the very relaxed Equinox. It’s undoubtedly still Devin, such as when the harsh vocals break out on Lightworker, but this is a different kind of Devin.

Back at his Cambridge UK acoustic show in April 2022, Devin told the audience that Lightwork was a much simpler, straightforward album than some of his previous stuff. Given the previous (main) album to come from Devin was the equally genius and batshit crazy Empath of 2019, this is a fair statement, but the music definitely still has its layers and complexities.

Arguably the second half of the album is where the strongest and most interesting material lives on Lightwork. Dimensions sits somewhere between lo-fi indie and EDM and can definitely be filed under “it shouldn’t work but it does”. Celestial Signals is hugely atmospheric, almost feeling like Devin does Opera in terms of ambience if not in vocal style. The penultimate track, Vacation, is both jolly and laid back – which ultimately are things you’d like to associate with going on holiday, so it does the job nicely. The closing Children Of God is a bit…chanty for lack of a better description, and at ten minutes long it outstays it’s welcome somewhat.

Lightwork is a very different Devin Townsend album. It’s Devin flexing his creative powers in another new direction, and as is so often the case when artists try new things there are a few misses as well as hits. But when Lightwork is good, it is very good indeed. Hardcore fans will find much to enjoy, and casuals may discover one of the great creative minds of our time as a result of him trying something new.

Devin Townsend’s new album, Lightwork, is out now on InsideOut Music. Pick up the album from Devin’s official UK merch store.

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