1.0.8. is the performing name of Andrew Stewart, a North Yorkshire-based artist who I’ve featured before on the blog. It was the originality of Andrew’s sound that first caught my attention, with genre descriptions proving elusive when I reviewed his single Creature. With that in mind, I was keen to hear more from him, so thought I’d give his new album Devotion a listen.
By Graeme Smith
Feature photo by Nicholas Jolly
Creature opens the album, just as fresh and unique as I remember it to be. Its lyrics set the tone for what is to follow. It’s a peek under the hood, not just of Andrew’s mind, but of the human condition. They story is set to a musical arrangement that’s not quite jazz, not quite folk, and not quite rock, the result of two years of experimentation in the studio of collaborator, musician and producer Jason Odle.
It’s followed by the album’s title track. Lurching into the world of blues and rock, the guys put their own twist on the classic sound, playing with repetition and excess. After a minute, the blues elements are replaced by psych. All the while, the guitar remains fuzzy and the vocals full of character.
Things are slowed down for the dreamy Dynamite & Alcohol. The instrumentals are reminiscent of Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles, if they had added a trip to the Deep South of the US after their stay in India. Sawdust & Hay keeps things country, introducing R&B and disco elements. It’s the perfect subversion of a floor-filler.
The whimsically-titled Magical Dave comes next. Its vibe matches its title, with bright brass notes and storytelling lyrics. It feels like a tribute to the classic songwriters of the ’60s and ’70s while the lyrics are firmly contemporary. The first half of the album is then rounded off by Rooks & Crows, a Latin and country-infused explosion of poetry and longing.
Mask kicks of the second half in a moody and downbeat fashion though its weightiness is tempered by licks of acoustic guitar and vocals that take their moments to soar. Diamonds strips things back, and fills the space with a healthy dose of wistfulness and nostalgia that is echoed in the folky Somerset Boys. The marching snare and tin whistle is delicate but powerful touch.
Sirens (Hales) pushes the boundaries of what has already been a boundary-pushing album. At almost six minutes long, it takes you on a journey from tense strummed strings to sweeping climax. It’s followed by Gorgeous George, another nod to timeless song-writing. Its lyrics are visceral, raw and unforgiving.
And finally we arrive at the album’s conclusion, with Life Express proving to be a late album highlight. Just as Creature did, and all that followed it, it speaks of finding difficulty with finding your place, not just in the world but within your own mind. It has a driving tempo and a sense of urgency mixed with hopefulness.
I feel like there’s so much more I could say about Devotion, and it certainly deserves more than one listen. The album is the result of two years of hard work and that’s evident by how accomplished it feels. It’s the result of Andrew being unafraid of using his voice, letting it all go, and trying something different. We need more innovators like him. You can listen to the whole of Devotion below.