Devin Shelton was a founding member of the band Emery. He wrote, recorded, and toured with the band from 2001 until he decided to move on in early 2011. He said, "Leaving the band was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but it was time." After starting a family, and being away from the touring lifestyle for quite a while, he released his solo album "Life and Death" in January of 2013.
And here we are now, two years and ten tracks later. The album, "Life and Death" has a very catchy, but melancholy flow to it, as is Emery's trademark, and Devin did everything to carry it on. While lyrically similar in feel, the album stands alone stylistically and captures the essence of Devin's style of writing.
The album starts with a track called "Cancer", leaving the character of the album alone, without his wife and in a dark place. As she leaves, he sings, "I'm gonna need you to know, that I am nothing without your love. I don't think life without you is a life worth living at all." So the beginning of the album is the end of her life, and the start of his battle. It carries us into "Surrounded" in which the man sees his wife everywhere, and is having a hard time remembering the positives from their life together. The music is hard hitting and compliments the lyrics in exactly the way you would expect for this song. "Across the Ocean" is his plea that he would do anything to have her back...just to feel her hand in his again. Musically, this track blends the pop and rock, initiating mixed emotions to the listener. The fourth track is a conversation between the man and God. Once again we are caught in the midst of a man struggling to find reason among the chaos, and can only find anger. The end of the song has a sad feel, as the man cries out "Don't be surprised if I don't come home. I might tear out my heart, so I can't feel at all." Beautifully mixed keys, piano and electronic drums add to the heaviness of the heart for this emotional altro.
"Worse" is an acoustic track that breaks the album in half, and brings us to the question of whether or not this man is going to take his own life. Soothing and simplistic is the description of this track, perfect for the middle of the album. What may be the strongest track on the album, "Land Mine" takes us on a metaphorical journey between who God is and who this man is, and carries us musically and dynamically into the mind of an unstable man, followed by the grace of an unchanging God. "Crumbling" comes from a previous Emery album, but fits in perfectly with the content of "Life and Death". As he searches for truth and comfort, he mistakes the pleasures of this world for the things that last. But to his dismay, he finds himself alone again. Beautifully orchestrated, and very well written is this musical roller coaster. "Tear You Apart" takes the listener into a dream to where he can't decipher what's good and what's bad, and the guilt weighs on him. Thought he knows he needs to let go of it, he just can't and it's tearing him apart. Some very cool, twists and turns in this one musically, which makes for a traditional Emery feel. The second to last track, "Trust" leaves us lying in bed, wondering whether or not we want to get out again. Cloudy vision and lack of purpose causes some serious doubts, as he realizes who he has become. This track starts acoustic with a really cool, soulful feel, then comes to a head as he whispers "when did I become this person I can't trust?", and then yells it out, obviously searching for answers. We say goodbye with "So Far Away" as the man finally realizes how lost he is without God. After having been through a long, tiring journey musically and lyrically, this worshipful tune offers a final glimmer of hope, for both us and the man in the story.
All in all, this album is musically creative and unique, and lyrically an amazing story of life and hope, showing us that sometimes it takes more than one song to get to where we are supposed to be.