Blink, blink. I squint into the light. I shake my head, dust myself off, and slowly pull myself up onto my rickety legs. Where am I? I look to my left for a minute, then to my right. Nothing looks familiar. I can’t make out any clear images, nothing recognizable. Just light. And light like no other. It’s like it has a warmth, a penetrating force, a quality all its own. Not sun. Not lamp. Not moon. Nothing I’ve felt before. But it’s this ethereal light, this soft embracing light, this almost divine light that surrounds me. And that’s it. That’s all I can feel. All I can see. All I can experience. Sure, it dances around, it somehow echoes, and curiously plays with me like a stranger pretending it’s known me my whole life. But that’s it. That’s this strange reality, this safe but bizarre world in which I find myself.
Snort, snort. I wake up. Must’ve dozed there for an instant. I felt so relaxed and whisked away by Devotion’s new album “In Love We Stand Alone” that I must’ve drifted off. But, the tracks took shape in my mind and painted a friendly image of this spiritual encounter. It’s almost as though my resting body was in this world but my soul was waking up in another. Though it was brief, it was definitely a pleasant experience.
Sigh, sigh. What a great album. Troy Schafer (Kinit Her, Rain Drinkers, Second Family Band) and his wife Dani have really got something here. In their own words, Devotion is a “celebration of new lore transmitted through the creative union and opposite charges of Dani & Troy Schafer.” I’m glad that they did collaborate and have created a whole that is greater even than the sum of its parts. Depending on the track, there are moments of spiritually transcendent drone paired with Dani’s vocals. I love it when those strings glide and dangle you in midair with their sharpness and grace. There are also instants of experimental instrumentation akin to Rain Drinkers. And there is a real neo folk vibe sometimes, especially on the second track that reminds me a little of the earthy cultic feel of Kinit Her. The influences of all these other projects are bound to bleed into this work, but as was stated before, this is no mere conglomerate but is something altogether greater and deeper. I feel like, other than Troy’s very moving “Evening Song Awaken,” this is his most emotive and passionate musical engagement to date. The compositional execution along with Dani’s voice resonates with authentic sentiment. It all envelops you in a soft cocoon of warmth and light, which is why I may have been taken there in my imagination. A complex, innovative, and lovely gift, this Devotion project is. Thank you, you two. This deserves listen after listen to appreciate the magnificence and beauty. Available on CD from Brave Mysteries.