Like most, if not all music journalists, I constantly seek out music that for the lack of better words, reinvents the wheel; music that surfaces to the top apart from middling rest, which often seems so bland. But there are certain moments, mental and emotional states where minimal production and a single resounding voice are warranted and honestly, much needed. This is Devon Welsh, the exact voice which transcends any desire for complexity and innovation but instead, offers the ability to strike heartstrings most emphatically.

Following the “blissful devastation” of his solo debut Dream Songs, released just last year, the former Majical Cloudz frontman has quickly turned the page for his next project, True Love. Like Dream Songs, Welsh’s latest record is one that levies significant emotional heft. However, instead of lamenting upon the duality of life and death, True Love sees Welsh more topically focused, specifically on the idea of love in the abstract—encompassing all forms.

Though it’s easy to pass a jaded shrug or sigh at the mere thought of another lovesick, white male crooning about unrequited love, there is a staggering level of sincerity etched in Welsh’s heart. “As you get older, love becomes so much stranger than the childhood fantasy versions of yearning and desire,” Welsh said in the album press release. “Romance can be such a scary thing because there’s so much trust involved - sitting with uncertainties and reservations, taking a longer look at emotions, trying to understand them.”

With Welsh’s words in mind, the love he reflects upon is a deep-dwelling kind, one that either manifests in pure joy or traumatic horror. As this stark duality transpires throughout True Love, it remains unclear to whom these songs refer, which has become the case with all of Welsh's music thus far in his career. Needless to say, this cutting ambiguity allows Welsh to form a deep bond with a vast array of listeners. With this prevailing relatability, True Love sees Welsh unashamedly articulate the human heart from an abyss seldom traversed in pop music today.

Though not as prominently examined as other forms throughout this record, familial love runs deep within the opening track ‘Uniform’. However, a sense of disappointment seems to weigh on Welsh. “When I'm around you/ I can feel so many things go through my head/ I want to be just like my stepdad/ I want to be as cool as hi / But then the only thing that I can ever find is me/ I hope you like it.” Often, we aim to fulfill our family’s hopes and dreams, because we love them. However, this journey toward fulfillment can become burdensome and hinder this love. For Welsh, and many young men, the traditional but toxic ideals of masculinity is a deterrent against actualizing not only healthy familial love but self-love as well.

By challenging what it means to be a man, Welsh opens up about the world that nurtured him to purport a non-toxic definition of masculinity—defined by being in tune with your emotions and yes, self-love. As triumphant that may sound, the tracks cut from this form of love are tender and even heartbreaking. Though tracks like ‘Grace’ and ‘System’ see Welsh combatively scoff at a society built upon the ruins of toxic masculinity, his words are vividly mournful and aware that he is a product of this generational plague: “I will turn away/ From the shivering world/ Though I am the child/ Of that old and rotten place.” Nevertheless, there is an undying passion bubbling within Welsh to be emotional, to cry and to love himself and for us to love ourselves separate from what society says we have to be: “But system/ Since you took my heart away/ I feel inhuman like you/ And I don't want to feel that anymore.”

Of course, romantic love is not a stone Welsh leaves unturned. On the single ‘Dreamers’, Welsh frames a soul-stirring scene of a couple at a crossroads in their relationship and on the brink of heartbreak, “They sat down on the couch, he started to cry/ He said, ‘I don't know if I'm ready to die’/ And I know, I know, I know all the things she said/ She said, ‘I don't really feel I'm worth it yet.’" ‘Faces’ comes from a similar angle, however Welsh’s words are much more redeeming and hopeful here: “In the rain laughing as we cry/ I’ll wipe your tears away, we'll let it slide/ 'Cause when we’re honest/ When we're honest/ We're all guilty…”

Throughout True Love, Welsh shows the unflinching willingness to drive a screwdriver into tender spots of grief. Because of Welsh’s robust forwardness with his emotions and memories often too painful to rekindle, True Love is easily Welsh’s most intimate work to date. However, this level of intimacy stems from much more than instances of love gone awry. Musically, Welsh returns to the atmospheric simplicity of his days with Majical Cloudz. Though Dream Songs conjured beauty with the addition of bellowing string sections, True Love sees Welsh strip it all back to basics, back to when he devastated the masses merely through a synthesizer, a drum machine and of course, his crystalline voice. The arrangements and instrumentals of True Love are tearjerking on their own, but this record thrives because the life force is Welsh’s voice—sweeping and ornate, but above all, familiar and reassuring.