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The Devil and I
Lone Wolf The Devil and I
Released 14 May 2010
Producer Lone Wolf
Label Bella Union
Length 43:48
Genre Indie
Website iamlonewolf.com/

Is this the new sound of the Yorkshire moors? Lone Wolf is a project on Bella Union by Leeds songwriter Paul Marshall. His previous moniker Vultures was not without critical acclaim and having toured and recorded with pals Wild Beasts, is this just a distraction? Definitely not methinks.  His first album as Lone Wolf, The Devil and I explores increasingly dark and sombre themes with a denser, fuller sound than his earlier recordings.

The opener to the album encapsulates the gothic lyricism that permeates throughout. Where better to start than with a song about a spiritual and physical battle within a destructive relationship? On 'This Is War', which is probably the best song on the album, a dirge-like keyboard melts into a soulful refrain of brass instruments and drums to produce a cathartic wall of sound. The macabre nature of the lyrics is lifted by the almost exuberant release of the outro.

On 'Keep Your Eyes on the Road' Marshall sings about the trials of love with a progressive keyboard sound that reaches a crescendo with a mantra led rock-out. This is Big Music that would not be usually associated with an artist who formerly delved mainly in acoustic ways. What’s more you may be forgiven for thinking this track would not be out of place in fellow northerners Elbow's repertoire.

According to the singer, '15 Letters' is about a woman that is haunted by her lover which she has killed because she could never pronounce his name and the title of the track refers to the number of letters in his signature. Contrary to this description this is not be an offspring of Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads. The jauntiness and lushness of the arrangement gives the track its own unique melodic stamp. The instrumental beauty of 'The Devil and I (Part 1)' provide another highlight with its gorgeous wistful piano.

My main misgivings with the project are less so about Lone Wolf’s song writing ability than his voice. I found his pureness to be too earnest frequently and even bland on occasion. Sometimes Marshall is too busy being sombre lyrically and vocally and forgets about the songs themselves especially on 'Buried Beneath The Tiles' and 'Dead River'. The best tracks rely upon the dichotomy between the mournful vocal delivery and the repetitive tense nature of the music waiting to explode.

In saying this on the whole it’s not every day that you come across a musician who can pull off dark content like death, murder, madness and war and deliver them in such a beguiling and tuneful manner. The Devil and I hounds the listener into a grave if not beautiful shadow only to etch out a slither of light in the darkness through its near blissful sound. I just wish at times there was a little more devil lurking in its occasionally dull beauty. Overall this is a commendable effort and marks Lone Wolf (or whatever guise Marshall picks) as one to look out for in future.

- Tim Gannon