When Nashville's Devon Gilfillian independently released his self-titled EP in 2016, he was working with down-home flavors of modern blues and soul. But he’s since found a new sound, its clarity warped and smeared with psychedelic touches. It makes sense that he’d seek out Shawn Everett to produce his full-length debut, since Everett had a hand in Sound & Color, the album on which the Alabama Shakes traded rootsy textures for more cosmic abstractions.
As a songwriter, Gilfillian shows melodic pop instincts and affability; he spends the entirety of “Thank Me Later” backing out of a relationship and offering excuses, and the song has gentle charisma nonetheless. Elsewhere he brims with social and spiritual optimism (see: “The Good Life,” “Unchained,” “Stranger”). He has many colors to play with as a singer, too—from a sometimes Curtis Mayfield-like falsetto that can seem either introspective or sensual to the warm, grainy rasp he uses to summon a bit of earthiness. Gilfillian and Everett get the most experimental with arrangements, accompaniment, and effects, like the lurching syncopation, molten keyboards, and bleary vocal treatments of the slow jam “Stay a Little Longer.”