Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Devon Williams released Out of Time in March 2021 as a companion EP to last year’s album, A Tear in the Fabric. Out of Time features three rearranged songs from previous albums, as well as a new song, “Across the Ocean.” As with Williams’ previous work, Out of Time continues to demonstrate Williams’ strength in melodic writing and the use of ethereal harmonies.
Most of this EP was inspired by Williams’ lockdown in Denmark during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. In his own words:
“In July of last year, I came to Denmark—second happiest place on Earth—and wondered how long I’d be away from Los Angeles and why. So, the ideas of running out of time, feeling stagnant, self-doubt came through in different ways in these songs.”
The first track, “La La La La II,” is a rearrangement from Williams’ 2011 album, Euphoria, but lyrically belongs on this EP. The tension and impatience of stalled plans in 2020 are perceived in lines such as, “Follow your instincts all you want / Your dreams may never calm,” and “I blame circumstance / Coincidences obstruct me.”
The ending echoes of “la la la la” serve as an optimistic mantra to distract from the artist’s passive anger, a sentiment felt by many people during the pandemic lockdowns.
Williams’ talent in musical imagery is best showcased in his new song, “Across the Ocean.” The lyrics imitate homesickness and a wish to return to normalcy. A clock-like rhythm reflects the artist’s concern about losing time. Unlike “La La La La II,” Williams’ attitude towards his instincts has shifted from blasé to dependence: “Trust your instincts / What choice do we have, standing on the edge?”
“Out of Time II” and “Peace Now II” are both stripped down without losing richness. The reduction of percussion adds to the feeling of not just being stuck, but suspended in time, introspectively looking back at one’s memories while being anxious to make new ones. In “Peace Now II,” the loss of a driving rhythm takes away from the author’s pacing “back and forth chasing a miracle,” but is ultimately upheld through the melody.
Out of Time attests to Williams’ ability to reflect not only on his existentialism but on his artistry. Overall, these ’80s new wave rearrangements feel more reflective and melancholic, better communicating the artist’s inner dialogue and sense of uncertainty.