Bella Union seems to have a thing for moody tenors, although each has his own distinct sound. Lone Wolf’s debut, The Devil and I, separates him from label mates John Grant and Lawrence Arabia with classically-inspired instrumentation and literary lyrics.
The arrangements throughout The Devil and I are quite effective at creating a sense of grandeur by pushing louder tracks like “This is War” to their brink and adding extra weight to quieter tracks like “We Could Use Your Blood.” The mix of strings, horns, and sparingly-used percussion beneath the vocals and lead guitar give the music depth and variety.
The album weaves metaphor after metaphor and simile after simile into a depressing first-person tale of love and war. The Devil and I really digs into the “Love is a Battlefield” concept.
Lead singer and songwriter Paul Marshall paints himself as a destructive force, but demonizes the woman in his story as the cause of his actions. “I slaughtered her a cow and I'm a vegetarian/ That’s not man enough for her, not bloody enough,” he sings on “This is War.”
The battle continues throughout the record. Marshall gets his revenge later on in “15 Letters” singing “And whilst I'm turning in my grave and wasting away/ My name's still driving the girl insane.”
There aren’t any tracks on The Devil and I that stand out and scream “play me again!” (although “15 Letters” comes close), but the 10-track story is brought to life with exceptional arrangements and will keep you engaged throughout.
The Devil and I is in stores July 13 on Bella Union.