By: Dr Matt Warnock
It isn’t often that I come across an album that’s so good I have to listen to it multiple times in a row. When I sat down to check out Devi’s album Get Free I found myself doing just that. Every time the record finished I started it over, eventually just setting iTunes to “repeat all” to save me the hassle.
After about the fifth time through the album I found myself left with only one question, “How in the world have I never heard of this band before?”
In an attempt to learn more about the group that transfixed me so, gluing me to the couch as I repeatedly listened to their album, I popped over to Google to see what I could find on the best band I’d never heard of.
Turns out that Devi is the Sanskrit word for Goddess, which I found fascinating, but more importantly, Devi is also the name of a Jersey City based power-pop-rock trio led by vocalist and guitarist Debra, and featuring drummer John Hummel and bassist Dan Grennes.
Jersey City? Really, huh, never would have guessed. Not that there’s anything wrong with Jersey, insert bad joke here, but a band this tight and creative sounds like they’ve spent years absorbing the cultural zeitgeist of a metropolis like New York, L.A. or Montreal. One of “the” cities one associates with a band of this caliber. Just goes to show that you don’t need to live right in a big city to sound like a big-city band.
Anyway, back to the record, if you want to check out the Behind the Music story you can visit Devi’s website. Get Free is a powerfully written collection of eleven tracks, nine originals and two covers, that can be comfortably described as pop-rock.
Even before I had heard the record, the covers grabbed my attention. I thought, “Huh, Del Shannon’s “Runaway,” OK cool tune to cover.” Then I saw the last track on the record, “The Needle and the Damage Done,” and I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, this bands got some guts to cover a Neil Young track.”
Maybe it’s the fact that I’m Canadian. Maybe it’s that Neil is still one of the best singer-songwriters on the planet. Or maybe it was the song, being such a mega-hit for Young those many years ago, but I found it a bold statement that an indie band from Jersey would have it in them to cover a song like this and put it on a record. After hearing the track, I have to say, Devi did a fantastic job with their arrangement of this classic.
Check out the free download of DEVI’s track, “C21h23N03” HERE.
There are so many ways that covering a song of this magnitude could’ve gone wrong for any band, but Devi hits the nail on the head with their creative, yet respectful, interpretation. The track stays fairly close to the original, but the added harmonized vocals in the background and a guitar solo that Neil would be proud of, give the song that personalized touch we all look for in a classic cover. This is not just Devi playing Neil Young, this is Neil Young being played through Devi, and the end result is absolutely solid.
Not to dwell on one tune, though it is that good, the originals on the album are as compelling as the covers. “Another Day” is as strong an opener as I’ve heard from any modern pop-rock band in recent memory. It has everything an album lead needs, catchy chorus, hard-driving guitar riffs, great vocal harmonies and a beat that sucks you in and doesn’t spit you out until the final vocal harmonies have faded into the ether.
Check out the free download of Devi’s track, “When It Comes Down” HERE.
Get Free is definitely worth checking out. I could go into depth about every track on the album. Why it’s worthy of mention in a review, how I interpreted the lyrics, which guitar solos had me up playing air guitar, OK that last one is TMI. But the best way to experience Devi is to hear it.
So get off your butt and, rush to the internet and get this record. If it’s even a slight foreshadow of what’s to come from the trio, we’ll all be sitting here in a few years telling our friends, “Oh, you like Devi now. Well, I was into them before they hit it big.”