Sheffield studio institution Leigh Devlin, a.k.a. MinusBlue, has been a wealth of musical experience for over 30 years. Co-founder of Kenwood Studios in Sheffield, where Dizzee Rascal, Fila Brazillia and Groove Armada have recorded, also having engineered Dizzee Rascal’s Mercury Prize winning album, ‘Boy In Da Corner’, remixing for Reverend And The Makers, and signing over 100 records to down tempo compilations, Devlin’s place in this world is truly secured in writing and producing.
Now, following on from his 2009 self-titled album, Devlin’s second studio album ‘Living Life In Phases’ is a culmination of influences and experiences after a 3 year hiatus away from the studio. However, can he hold his reputation while the music landscape is ever evolving?
First single ‘Don’t Give Your Love Away’ kicks this album off with the intense and unique vocals of Justin Lewis, of the acclaimed Justin Lewis Orchestra. Clearly the right choice for the first single, this track fires powerful electronic impulses into your consciousness, and accompanied by Lewis’ raw vocals, is a magnificent combination. The previous chilled sounds of his past debut have been stripped back to simple drums and synths, yet staying true to Devlin’s electronic heritage. The 80s and 90s feel to some of the tracks reflect how much influence has been absorbed by Devlin over the years. The tracks that carry you on this journey most are the retro sounding ‘Speak In Words’ with its hypnotic repetition of electro tinklings and A-ha vocal style of Tom Sanderson and the beautiful ‘Too Far To Speak’, a track elevated to pop greatness by the haunting vocal talent that is Alex Michailidis.
‘Living Life In Phases’ could not be a better title for this record. It is a rich tapestry of musical influences and a rare opportunity to hear a collection of tracks reflecting so many years of experience. The amalgamation of pop, Balearic and electronic sounds, engages a reminiscent journey though the years, reminding us how we got to the genre as it is today. It is more than clear that Leigh Devlin’s ongoing love for music is keeping him at the forefront of his field and may that love continue.