Lockdown has seen an explosion of music created by people with time to explore their creative side, be they experienced musicians with a huge back catalogue behind them or relative novices.
For us reviewers this has also meant a vast increase on music that we receive to review so, on top of the fact that my real world job is increasingly busy, it has to take something pretty special for me to get my fingers dancing across the keyboard.
Some musical genres just don’t hit the spot for me but, if I even have a tiny tingle of anticipation about something, I will at least give it a listen to see if it resonates with me and, hopefully, find the time to put some words down on the MacBook.
Joe Devine is an Independent solo artist from London. Having spent almost 20 years playing a huge range of different genres for numerous different artists and bands, he is now taking the leap into producing his own body of work in the hope of creating and capturing his own personal sound that fuses all aspects of his eclectic influences.
Joe sent me an email to see if I would be interested in reviewing his first solo EP, ‘One Foot Forward’. I was intrigued by the minimalist cover and the information contained in the email and, after a quick listen, the absorbing music.
“The project started out purely as a journey of self discovery throughout Lockdown, however after sharing initial concepts with friends and musicians I’ve been lucky enough to work with over the past 20+ years as a session player, the project team rapidly grew; including Daniel Said on drums as well as Henry Green on bass and Produced/Engineered by Ivo Sotirov at The Friary Studios that houses the iconic 48 channel SSL G4000 desk previously used in Studio 1 of the legendary Olympic Studios by artists such as Prince and The Rolling Stones.” Joe explains,
“After a year of graft and collaboration the sounds and tones we were able to achieve on this recording and the subsequent tracks to follow surpassed anything I could have imagined when I began and I cannot wait to share the end result.”, he goes on to say.
The album contains five tracks of superbly written and delivered instrumental guitar music that contains influences of jazz, prog and straight up rock. Each of the tracks tells a story and takes us on Joe’s musical journey, including the evolution from his early days playing acoustic folk through to more contemporary guitar playing throughout his 20s.
What we get is a gloriously laid back and lush selection of tracks that just ooze class and a polished sophistication. It brings to mind the criminally underrated Neal Schon solo release ‘Beyond The Thunder’ to these ears on One Foot Forward and Baby Steps and I find Joe’s style comparable to Schon’s, a mixture of note precise technique along with lashings of heart and soul.
It is all utterly uplifting from the start to the finish with a gloriously atmospheric and wistful feel throughout. Utterly infectious and catchy riffs trade places with fiery dynamism and a monstrous groove that Joe Satriani would have been proud to call his own on the brilliant Giant Leap and modern Math Rock notable Plini can be heard in the staccato notes of the stylishly edgy A Perfect Contrast.
This way too short EP finishes with Too Far Gone which starts with an intricate guitar that reminds me of legendary guitarist Andy Summers before opening into another snazzy, clever piece of music with a deliciously restless undertone.
Listening to this album for the first time brought a smile to my face and there’s a lot to be said for that in these times we are living through. Technically brilliant but with soul and a sense of humour and just a huge amount of joie de vivre, ‘One Foot Forward’ is a very bright musical light at the end of a dark tunnel and I implore you to seek it out.
Released 28th May, 2021
Order direct from the artist here:
Listen to the title track on Spotify here: