The past two years have been a frightful repertory of myriad emotions and experiences- affecting humanity as a species. As Patton Oswalt said in his veracious statement, “We are all in the same storm, but we aren’t on the same boat.”
As a musician experiencing this tectonic change, the psyche directs you to use what you know to say what you feel. Which is what London based musician Dan McLachlan did with his numinous album, ‘Twas The Devil Himself.
Laying out a smorgasbord of themes & emotions to shuffle with, McLachlan focuses on time, circumstance, joy, melancholy, and tryst with fate.
The album also features producer and proficient guitarist & producer Nick Jonah Davis. He lays down some of the cleanest & meanest slide guitar accents I have heard since Derek Trucks’ guitar parts in Tedeschi Trucks’ 2019 album, Signs.
Deep Dive- The Tracks
The album opens with a bluesy, nylon guitar strum and snare roll for How to Waste My Time. Whether they be 12 bar blues or 3/4 rolls, the snare has an instantly recognizable snap. The slide wails away in the background as the song picks up. McLachlan’s Springsteen like vocals dominate the tracks, echoing the sentiments in his mind. The theme of time is dwindled upon- McLachlan realizing the value of it, it would seem.
Introing with sweet, sweet slide, this melancholy track dawns realization through metaphors and personified emotions. The message being clear, are you waking up to the change you see around you, or will you lose yourself in a state of delirium? Waking Up is a great track with sublime instrumentals.
Personally, this track was an album favourite for me. In No Holds Barred, MacLahlan induces into the audio a sort of contained fury- staging what was nature’s reaction to the exploitation she faced for millennia. It has a strong core of blues, with sick licks and an assortment of layers. Remember to never underestimate a force you can’t control.
Revelation starts to set in with Walk with The Animals, where man sways back to his roots again. Introducing piano parts, this song has a strong spine with nature as a theme, with a Pink Floyd’s Time kind of metronome rolling away in the background. Like a scenery of hills, rolls around in your thoughts.
Opening with piano and slide again, Haste Makes Waste is a message for you with time as the frontrunning theme. It has a mix of upbeat and downcast climates, a healthy war for your mind. Feature slide just changes the plane of this track to otherworldly.
As we escape from our enclosures, I Was Out is an upbeat blues swing that enjoys a free spirited soul. Combined with the track Making Up, it is a change of demeanor for one who was isolated for a long period of time, reconciliation with the Earth.
My other favourite track in this album, Eight Billion People features a Metallica’s Fade to Black like opening acoustic riff, that loops over for the duration of the track. Speaking of the struggle of our species gasping for air, it describes our plight with nuanced brilliance.
Switching tempo & emotion, Freedom is a track that personifies that very feeling that was an enigma for far too long. McLachlan is happy to let freedom stay, and so are we for when it comes.
I Ain’t A Mover sings about the need of humans to attach to places, feelings and emotions. It’s a joyful ride, making space in your heart for the next track- Tripwire. It features McLachlan alone with his acoustic, a perfect closer for a remarkable album. Truly has the heart to bind you to the intangibles of your life.
Proceed with caution for this album is a migration back and forth from a place you once belonged to and are in now. The album has emotion, great narratives, astounding instrumental work and a cohesive experience that moves you.