Gilding the Lily
There’s a pervasive nostalgia to Devon Williams’ Gilding the Lily, heard both in its yearning lyrical content and its fusion of pop styles from the past. But if this L.A.-based singer/songwriter can’t resist looking backward, he’s likewise making strides forward artistically on his third solo release. Aided by producer Jorge Elbrecht (Ariel Pink, Violens), Williams delivers his most self-revealing songs to date here, using multilayered arrangements to reveal rather than disguise their confessional content. The influence of ‘80s postpunk groups (especially The Teardrops Explodes and Echo & The Bunnymen) is evident in the heavily treated guitars and melancholy melodies of “Flowers,” “Pendulum,” “Puzzle," and similar tracks. At times—particularly on “Around in a Maze”—Williams sounds like John Lennon or Graham Nash at their most painfully sincere. Scaling back the overdubs and relying on acoustic sounds, he delivers “All I Have to Do” and “Lost My Concentration” with disarming vulnerability. Williams often seems ambivalent about love and his place in the world, but the music he uses to convey his emotions is impressively focused and consistently engaging.