Neil Thomas “Devadatta.”


Neil Thomas “Devadatta.”

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Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

English artist/singer/songwriter Neil Thomas just released their latest work entitled “Devadatta.” This word by the way means “God Given”. Band consists of 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 (background vocals).

“Devadatta’ is the follow up album to 2010’s ‘A Century of Lullabies’. Much like it’s predecessor, it’s another concept album (with more than a nod to the progressive rock genre) mixing stark imagery, social commentary and humanist philosophy to create a tapestry of vivid soul-searching and storytelling. There is immensely detailed substance to this album, which ultimately means that a single listen through is not going to be enough.

Many tracks on “Devadatta” are emotional and invigorating but with just the right amount of soul searching spirit and wisdom to keep a balance. The combination of Thomas’ voice and the amazing arsenal of players in this band present a strong format that even borders on alternative-rock popular in the states. In this aspect Neil Thomas are quickly becoming a musical force within this style of music over in England without going aggressively over the top about it all. Far from being background music the listener is gently invited to truly listen and feel the life-blood pulsating from behind the microphone on stand out track “Adrenalinized” and “Time Bomb.” These songs provide the a-typical Rock persuasion, tenacious guitar, in the pocket drum-line and things like Violin, Keyboards, Piano and Cello. Some songs like the first 2 have an almost “live feel” production value to them. This gives the first few tracks a jagged edge. Some moments hit the heart “Moral Compass” and “Deliberate Acts of Harm” – and many tracks to me are emotionally multi-layered “The Unlikelihood of Intimacy” and “Charm Offensive” MY favorite track is “The Dragon Kings Offensive” because it opens a window to the soul and personality and shows a “starkness” with UK flair to it.

With catchy choruses and hooky melodies there’s plenty to compel the discerning listener to keep hitting the play button over and over again, each time peeling back the layers. From the driving rock thunder of the opening track, ‘Adrenalinized’, to the acutely intimate ‘Charm Offensive’, the album offers an array of emotion. Do not be fooled by the number of tracks either. Both ‘The Dragon King’s Daughter’ and ‘Moral Compass’ are both over 10 minutes long – broken down into suites, they give the impression that you are actually listening to ten or twelve songs, rather than eight.

It seems in the end not a song is to be taken too lightly on “Devadatta” because it’s all about passion and full till blues/rock. That’s a powerful combination of music, perhaps maintaining a healthy sense of optimism about oneself not only in the here and now, but what lies ahead tomorrow. But it’s all about the roll of the dice sometimes. All of the above and more – the fifth official release from Thomas extols all that is special about life, straight from the heart of a rock solid English rock band. Need I say more?


– Trevor Hartley. Approved by Cyrus Rhodes.