There are countless reasons why people connect with particular albums. Not only is this dependent on the experiences they create along with the music, but also the type of listener they are.
"Finding Peace" by Devin LaRue is absolutely an album for those listeners who actually listen. It's an album for those who are willing to put in the time to truly let the album take them somewhere. Whether the listener finds themselves somewhere reflective in their past or some distant hopeful place in their potential future, the ability to transport through these songs is undeniable.
The record is both emotional and purposeful, while effortlessly carrying the listener through a musical narrative filled with unexpected turns. The concept itself seems intentionally left open to interpretation.
The overall vibe, however, is somber and introspective, but not at all hopeless. The album bravely uses more instrumentation than vocals to keep its flow moving forward. Reoccurring musical themes are dropped in throughout the album. These, along with the general atmosphere, tie the album together seamlessly. This isn't to say the vocals are not worth noting. The St. Louis singer/songwriter does quite an impressive job delivering simple and powerful lines in a way Glen Hansard fans will surely and immediately love.
Devin's wife, Lindsay LaRue, contributes lead vocals on "After the Fall," which is equal parts haunting, heartbreaking and beautiful. Even while being a conceptual record, each song on "Finding Peace" has the strength to stand independently. Fortunately, the tracks do not succumb to any predictable formula throughout the album, allowing the listener to stay easily engaged.
Many of the songs lean into theatrical elements to a degree that immediately calls the other senses into action, allowing both visual and emotional responses. This is evident on "Running," which slowly swells to a heightened sense of urgency using percussion to almost replicate the feel of a gradually increasing heart rate. "Lingering Spirits" conjures images something slightly otherworldly, but also, somehow welcoming and comfortable. All this is delivered with spectacular musicianship from a wide variety of instrumentalists.
"Finding Peace" culminates in what I consider the highlight of the album, "Hymn of the New Earth." This eight-minute track closes the album unexpectedly with about everything you want from a song, but didn't realize you wanted: undeniable grooves, hidden Enya vibes and faint, but driving synth drumming that leads the listener into the welcoming arms of the most romantic saxophone solo in years. "Finding Peace" is a very exciting and powerful debut album by an artist who clearly has many options in front of him, musically.
If you're the type of listener who likes to dig into albums, then I suggest picking up the vinyl, putting on your nicest headphones and getting lost. Yet, if you find that in 2018 you've turned into a musical cherry picker, there's still plenty individual tracks to choose from, so pop open Spotify and check out one of the most surprisingly enjoyable albums of the year.