Devin Townsend – Lightwork – Album Review

Devin Townsend – Lightwork – Album Review

3rd November 2022 1 By George Simpson

 The best thing about a new Devin Townsend album is that you never know what you’re going to get. There is no such thing as a typical album by him. Each album is a musical snapshot of where his head at that time. There have been some very pleasant, surprising results over the years, and this one is no different. 

This album shows that his head is in the mood for something a little different this time. His previous album, 2019’s Empath was an obviously cathartic amalgamation of his many musical guises. It embraced the brutal heaviness of Strapping Young Lad, the melody of the various Devin Townsend Project albums, prog and even musical theatre. On Lightwork, melody is key element, as he veers off into power pop territory. Don’t worry though, Hevy Devy is still very much with us in spirit. 

Whilst this is much ‘poppier’ album than he’s previously released, he’s not gone to the same extreme as Steven Wilson did on the largely electronic The Future Bites. The Devin of old is still present, but more of an omnipresent threat in the background than a reality. The results of this approach make for a compelling listen, as most Devin‘s albums are. 

The introduction of reknowned producer, GGGarth Richardson has allowed Devin to fully realise these melancholic songs’ full melodic potential.  The pandemic effected us all enormously, including Devin and his writing. But rather than focus on doom and gloom, its’ subject matter deals with the personal revelations he encountered. First single Moonpeople opens the album, and casts the musical die for what follows, very laidback and uplifting musically. In addition, the lyrics tell us that he’s walking the walk, “finally free from it all” and telling us to “Watch your talk, you’re finding yourself in it all, Let your mood clear fear along the way”. Basically, embrace what is happening for the best.

As a long term fan of Mr Townsend, the song that surprised me the most was Call Of The Void, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, whilst it’s a million miles from his more metallic material, and in effect a pop song, it’s also bloody brilliant. An affecting lyric imploring us not to ‘frreeaakk out’ when faced with what’s happening in the world really does resonate with the listener. It could almost be a sister song to Empath’s Spirits Will Collide. Secondly, it also has a huge amount of crossover potential, as evidenced by my wife adding it to her Spotify playlist after hearing me play it on repeat for this review. To add context, she previously thought of Devin as that odd metal dude with alien puppets that her hubby is into. However, this song has broken down that barrier for her, and she won’t be alone.

Whilst melody, reflecting and realisations are the order of the day here, don’t think for a second that this is some sort of commercial sell out. It’s an album stuffed to the brim with classy songs, but still undeniably Devin, If you’re a long term fan, you’ll be used to the odd musical diversion from him, be it the ambience of Ghost, the acoustic Casualties of Cool, or the truly bizarre The Puzzle. So, you just sit back and enjoy the ride and see where he takes you.

The album does have moments that hark back to his other work. The powerful, driving Dimensions is one such track. Whilst it’s driven by a powerful electronic beat, you can easily imagine him thundering through this in full metal mode on one of his earlier albums. The recurring synths on it are rather hypnotic and provide another of the album’s stand out moments. 

There has always been a big prog influence on Devin‘s work, and it’s still present here. The powerful semi title track Lightworker is a good example of this. It channels both the albums musical modus operandi, and a theatrical, almost operatic, vocal to deliver an epic track. The album comes across like a musical bridge from his past to the future in that sense. It’s the sound of Devin stepping out of his comfort zone and confidently asserting himself as an artist on a different musical page to his previous work. 

The album ends on a lovely musical contrast of styles. Harking back to Casualties Of Cool, Vacation is a chilled out country interlude. Finally Children Of God ends the album on a stirring high. It’s not a very metal thing to say, but this and a few other songs here do remind me of pop proggers Tears For Fears. Like them he has produced a classy album, full of memorable songs. He even spookily sounds like TFF singer Curt Smith at times on the album too. 

If Devin’s intention was to create an uplifting, inspiring collection of post pandemic songs, he has most certainly succeeded. It opens a whole range of musical doors for him for the future, and I can’t wait to see which ones he takes us through next. 

Score: 8.5/10   


1 – Moonpeople

2 – Lightworker

3 – Equinox

4 – Call Of The Void

5 – Heartbreaker

6 – Dimensions

7 – Celestial Signals

8 – Heavy Burden

9 – Vacation

10 – Children Of God

Release Date: 4th November 2022

Label: Insideout Music

For all things Devin, click HERE and to purchase the album, click HERE

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