Regarding the video, Williams stated: “With ‘Circus World’ I was having a lot of one-sided conversations, and my head kept spinning around in circles. But the world kept spinning and when I stepped out of my head, I felt out of touch. It’s sort of a tightrope between being lost in thought and then just floating through the world without looking for meaning. ‘Circus World’ is just feeling like everything is absurd, and finding the humor in it makes it a little more palatable. Am I a joke for always trying to find to humor in the world? Or is the world full of clowns? Really, it’s tough to decide when the joke has gone too far. The video was made by Mike Cullen. He’s made a handful of videos for me—’Pendulum,’ ‘Puzzle,’ ‘Revelations.’ He and I pulled clips that represented the harsh contrast you’d find on TV and internet. It’s disturbing to try and navigate, and I think the clips show the absurdity of that contrast.”
Over three albums under his own name, Devon Williams has honed a trademark blend of shining power pop, folk rock, and jangle pop that explores the shared spaces and nuances of each, anchored by his distinctive melodic gifts.
After an uncharacteristic six-year break, he returns with A Tear In The Fabric: 12 lushly arranged, deeply felt songs chronicling a journey from confusion to clarity, driven by a lilting dreaminess, rock-solid songcraft, and unerring hooks. It’s a stunning step forward from 2008’s Carefree, 2011’s Euphoria, and 2014’s Gilding the Lily – a tightrope-walk between reality and fantasy rendered in vividly impressionistic color.
The long six years between Gilding the Lily and A Tear In The Fabric were defined by a series of changes: most notably, the birth of Williams’ daughter four years ago and the illness and eventual death of his father in 2019. Forced to confront head-on the implications of these jarring shifts to his reality, Williams began considering his priorities and purpose – and grappling with who he was and wanted to be – in his gestating songs.
Williams found himself engaged in an endless dialogue with his thoughts – and, in turn, continuously tweaking and prodding the material. Even mixing became a place to labor over details, turning into a two-year process. “The back and forth with Dave Carswell [best known for his work with Destroyer] was rough,” Williams admits. Perhaps it was only natural: irrevocable change had created the tears in the fabric of his day-to-day life that give the album its title.
Sometimes the material grounded him in domesticity and routine; other times, they helped him escape from daily drudgery. As he sings on “In Babylon,” “It’s hard to trust the imaginary / Second guessing a dream / You don’t know what you are anymore / Is there a perfect world in the normal life?”
The finished songs are a series of evocative snapshots for Williams – six years-worth of places and conflicted feelings: questions asked, answers given, compromises reached, as captured with startling lucidity as on “Domesticated”: “I’m under your skin, is this the price of forever? I don’t mind if you just do what you like / I find it hard to re-adjust this tug of war / Is it part of the role? / Well, if it is, I can play.”
Rarely have songs so personal sounded so luxurious. In a catalog full of pop gems, A Tear In The Fabric stands out for its completeness – individual worlds of sound and sentiment, timeless and transcending their origins. Its creation may have been laborious, but the final product feels as natural as breathing.
A Tear In The Fabric
[pre-order the LP here]
Street Date: May 1, 2020
1. Followed Me Back
2. A Tear In The Fabric
3. In Babylon
4. Out Of Time
6. Deadly Turn
7. For My Memory To Collect
8. Snake In The Grass
10. Slow Motion
11. Circus World
12. Peace Now?