Janet Devlin – Confessional (Album Review)

It takes a big person to acknowledge a change is needed… and it takes a bigger person to make it happen. At only 25 years of age, Northern Irish Singer-Songwriter Janet Devlin has experienced a lot of life in a short span.

Growing up before the world’s eye, there have been highs, such as reaching number one on the UK Indie Breakers with 2014’s Running with Scissors, and there have been lows, including an ongoing struggle with depression as well as alcohol addiction. Coming face to face with her demons, Devlin takes the next step forward as a human being and musician with her new album Confessional.

Set for release on Friday, June 5th, 2020 via Ok! Good Records, Confessional is a deeper, darker look into the psyche of the sensitive, thoughtful Devlin. An old soul, in years past, Devlin has offered songs of hope and light, all while consistently being authentically personal. 

Pop leaning, with an Irish Folk touch, for Confessional, she opts to expand the spectrum a bit; diving into the Indie Rock world. For arguments sake, think the work of former Flyleaf Vocalist Lacey Sturm or even star American Singer-Songwriter Jewel. Using these comparisons only as a point of reference, in short, Devlin is growing into the artist she always wanted to be. Retaining her signature, sweet voice, above all, Confessional finds her projecting even more vulnerability as an artist. 

Complete with twelve tracks, including the 2019 successful singles “Confessional,” “Saint of the Sinners,” and “Honest Men,” there is a lot going on in-between the lines. That said, it is fitting the album’s opener is the aforementioned title-track which lays the foundation for the story ahead with a Celtic and holy atmosphere. From here, there are many emotional moments such as “So Cold,” “Speak,” and “Better Now” where it feels as if Devlin is gently confessing to you alone. Simply heartbreaking, yet so beautiful, there are also more uplifting songs such as “Big Wide World,” the fantastical “Away With the Fairies,” and “Sweet Sacred Friend.” In between it all, there are a bundle of touching, genuine expressions which are brought to life with carefully selected instrumentation. This is evident with the catchy “Saint of the Sinner,” powerful “Honest Men,” and the soul-cleansing “Holy Water.” 

Overall, Confessional is a brave self-reflection that boldly finds Devlin taking responsibility for her own chosen paths. The most refreshing part of it all is the sheer honesty and sincerity in her delivery that makes you feel as if your own burden has been lifted. This in mind, Devlin is also releasing her autobiography My Confessional via Omnibus Press on June 25th, putting all her deepest thoughts onto paper.

In truth, it is hard to believe such a caring, sweet individual like Devlin has sustained such heartache which includes being bullied as child, aforementioned alcohol troubles, bouts with suicide, as well as repressed sexuality. If anything, Confessional shows us that there is no shame in weakness, we all have our crosses to bare, and what does not kill us does make us stronger. It’s a cold, dark world out there, but fortunately there is light…just ask Janet Devlin. It is uncertain where her career will go from here, but hopefully upward because Confessional is a bold moment. That is why Cryptic Rock gives it 5 out of 5 stars. 

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